The environmental impact of wind farm, when compared to the environmental impacts of fossil fuels, is relatively minor. Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most sustainable ways to generate electricity as it does not produce toxic pollution or global warming emissions. Wind is also abundant, inexhaustible, and affordable, which makes it a viable and large-scale alternative to fossil fuels.
While a wind farm may cover a large area of land, many land uses such as agriculture are compatible, as only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure are made unavailable for use. The ground disturbance and vegetation clearing required for wind farms is minimal. If wind farms are decommissioned, the landscape can be returned to its prior condition.
In Australia, wind farm developers undertake environmental assessment for each wind farm proposal to ensure that the potential impacts on the local environment (eg plants, animals, soils) is avoided or minimised. Turbine locations and operations are often modified, as part of the approval process, to avoid or minimise impacts on threatened species or communities and their habitats. Any unavoidable impacts can be offset with conservation improvements of similar ecosystems which are unaffected by the proposal. In addition, wind developers are often able to integrate beneficial local environmental measures into their construction and operational activities. This can include planting native species, protecting native bush areas, pest and weed management or erosion control.