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Go-ahead given for wind farm

Construction of a wind farm in the historic township of Taralga is due to begin early next year, after the Land and Environment Court yesterday ruled the controversial project may proceed.

The judgement upheld the decision of the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to approve the $185 million project, 45 kilometres west of Goulburn.

Locals concerned about noise, visual pollution and impact on wildlife appealed against that decision, made in January last year.

Martha Graham, of the resident action group Taralga Landscape Guardians, said the town would keep up the fight.

“We still believe this is a completely inappropriate place to put a wind farm,” she said. “They shouldn’t be in full view of an historic town and right on people’s property boundaries and within earshot of people.”

The judgement is a double defeat for the residents because the court allows for an even bigger wind farm than that originally approved by the minister.

“Ironically, it would appear that the original consent granted, for 54 turbines, is less than what the court has given,” Mr Sartor said. Yesterday’s judgement allows 69 turbines. “That may be a lesson to people that appeal against wind farms.”

Justice Preston ruled that the public benefit of a major renewable energy source outweighed residents’ private concerns.

The company planning to build the project, RES Southern Cross, expects it will be finished within two years. Its commercial director, Colin Liebmann, said it could produce enough energy to power 40,000 homes.

By Sunanda Creagh
February 13, 2007