A windfarm of between 75 and 100 turbines proposed for the Ben Lomond region would be the second largest in NSW if it went ahead, a project manager for the proponent said.
Speaking to the Examiner at the Ben Lomond hall, where a community information session was held on Tuesday afternoon, Angus Holcombe from Allco Finance Group said the $300million project was back on the agenda following a change in the Federal Government.
“With the new Rudd Government setting mandatory emission reduction targets, there is renewed interest in windfarms, so the battle is to get ahead in the queue for this project to be approved,” he said.
Mr Holcombe said the company hoped to have documentation completed by the end of January, with submission to the minister of planning by the end of April.
Expanded since the last community consultation two years ago, the project now covers an area around 15 km sq and involving 12 landholders. The turbines will run along several ridges from Ben Lomond, with the most northerly being on the property ‘Strathmore’ at Grahams Valley, to Mt Erby in the south west, and east of the New England Highway on a ridgeline on the property ‘Glen Lomond’.
The turbines will stand up to 124m to the tip of the top blade, with the windfarm having a capacity of up to 150megawatts of power, according to the company’s website. Mr Holcombe said it would employ up to 100 people during construction, and up to four full time once operational.
Speaking in support of the windfarm, Dorothy Every, ‘Silent Grove’ Ben Lomond where the number of turbines is yet to be determined, said windfarms were the way Australia had to go.
“We have an energy crisis. People complain about the look of them, but I’d prefer that than some of the big concrete electricity transmission towers,” she said.
Investigating the pros and cons has seen Mrs Every visit windfarms from north Queensland to South Australia.
“We took a sound monitor with us when we visited one and when we got home I tested it and my fridge when it is defrosting makes more noise,” she said.
“After visiting another at Wind Hill in Queensland we got home and rang the owners of a property underneath a turbine, and they couldn’t understand what all the fuss is about – the wind in the trees make as much noise.”
Cath Gordon of ‘Cromarty’ Moredun Road, where no turbines are planned, was also supportive.
“We won’t benefit (financially) but it’s an excellent idea,” she said.
Less convinced was Ron Collier of Kelleys Road Maybole.
“There are considerable downsides, not least the disharmony it creates within communities,” he said.
“I don’t believe the environmental credentials of windfarms are as significant as claimed, and you’ve got to question what is the proper fee both for those who host the turbines and the neighbours who are now effectively living in an industrial landscape.”
Mr Collier said there were many other issues that people hadn’t thought about, including limitations to the aerial spreading of fertiliser and pasture seed and the spread of weeds from service vehicles.
By Tim Hughes
20 December 2007
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