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Many hurdles remain

It’ likely a planning application for a wind farm proposal near Smeaton won’t be lodged until mid 2008.

Wind Power is proposing to build about 19 turbines as part of the Tuki project but still has a number of hurdles to clear.

The latest is a significant landscape overlay that exists on several hills the company would like to build on.

Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said the company was working with consultants to determine whether it was likely turbines would be approved for construction on hills protected by the overlay.

Mr Newbold said until an initial consultants report was delivered the exact size of the project wouldn’t be known.

“The SLO has a bearing on the design and number of turbines,” Mr Newbold said.

“The first community reference group meeting told us not to go back to them until we could tell them the number and location of the turbines and that means we need to have a pretty definitive view on the issue.”

Mr Newbold said the company still had to complete a number of environmental studies before it could lodge a planning application.

Meanwhile Tuki wind farm opponents have labelled a recent meeting with their local member, Agriculture Minister Joe Helper, a “waste of time.”

It’s the second time the Spa Country Landscape Guardians Group has met with Mr Helper to voice its concerns about the issue.

SCLGG spokesman Will Elsworth said the meeting lasted about two hours and while Mr Helper had expressed concern about community tension he still supported wind energy.

“When we met him he had no facts or statistics to support any claims the wind industry has,” Mr Elsworth said.

“He was gobsmacked with what has happened out here and was very concerned about that it’s putting a lot of stress to landholders that live around the area.”

A spokesman for Mr Helper, Ben Ruse, confirmed Mr Helper had met with the SCLGG but wouldn’t elaborate on what was discussed.

The Courier

4 August 2007