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Opponents vow to fight wind farm

Crows Nest Shire Mayor Geoff Patch says a $270 million wind farm approved by the Planning and Environment Court this week would bring major environmental, employment and economic benefits to the region.

But spokesman for a group opposing the wind farm, Jim Harper, has vowed to fight on against the project.

The court this week gave a consent order to the project after more than two years of legal action and community in-fighting.

”Not only will it save many millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases in the life of the project, but also save twice the water usage of our whole shire each year of operation compared with coal-produced power,” Cr Patch said.

‘Over $100 million will be spent in the region during construction and a significant number of local jobs will be created.

”The project will also considerably enhance the tourism potential of our shire.”

The head of Allco Wind Energy, the company behind the project, Steen Stavnsbo, said, when built, the farm would generate 124 megawatts of power, enough electricity for more than 47,000 homes.

Mr Stavnsbo said it was expected the wind farm at Upper Pinelands would create 460 manufacturing and construction jobs and a further 15 full-time maintenance jobs in Crows Nest.

Allco would now seek a power purchase agreement from the State Government and it was hoped the project would be operating within 18 months of obtaining that agreement.

The project, which had caused division within the area, will use 75 turbines, 30-storeys high.

The No Wind Farm group objected on grounds which included turbine blades would cause light flicker as they passed the sun, turbines would cause noise, devalue land, be a detriment to fauna and visual appeal of the area and were contrary to the council’s town plan.

Objectors also argued the green credentials of wind farms were a myth because large amounts of coal-fired energy was needed to power up generators to full capacity after a drop in wind speed. After drawn-out legal proceedings and mediation between the parties, the objections were progressively dropped.

This week, Judge Wilson granted the consent order subject to minor conditions.

But yesterday, Mr Harper said opposition to the farm would not go away.

”Wrongs are wrongs and rights are rights,” Mr Harper said.

”We have been subject to a lot of unethical dealing and that goes across the board as far as the council and developers are concerned.”

Mr Harper declined to flag the group’s future strategy.

”This time of the year things go to sleep, so it will be next year that we will be pursuing a fair result,” he said.

by Greg Berghofer