The long awaited Community Information day conducted in Scone by development group Pamada, did little to diffuse tensions over the proposed Kyoto Windfarm set to be constructed on the outskirts of Scone.
The open day was conducted in a bid to answer local residents’ questions in regard to the project, however, for many the day turned out to be frustrating rather than informative.
Many questions were repeatedly met with, ‘the right answer to that, is I don’t know’, by Pamada Founder and Director Mark Sydney.
The response only seemed to anger residents as they were forced to ask, ‘well if you don’t know, then who does?’
Mr Sydney said the reason for the vague response was the fact a number of investigations are still under way, including those referring to audio and visual concerns.
“Some consultants reports are still in the preliminary stages, but this will not be the last chance people get to ask questions,” Mr Sydney said.
While outside environmental groups lobbied the cause of the environment, inside angry local residents expressed the opinion perhaps the government had an agenda of its own.
“This is nothing more than a political stunt to make people believe the government is taking an interest in green energy,” one resident said.
Likewise, another comment suggested the decision to place turbines atop the mountainous ranges over Scone was to act as a billboard for the government’s support of green energy.
“Are we flag waving for green energy? We sell that vista, it is one of our most valuable assets, we are a sleepy town and don’t want to become an industrial site,” the resident said.
However, Mr Sydney said the choice of location was based solely on wind research.
“Wind maps have indicated there was no wind in other areas, but wind does exist in the proposed site.”
Despite Mr Sydney’s explanation, some residents were reluctant to believe research revealed sufficient wind existed in only two areas, both belonging to the same landowner.
Although many residents remain against the proposed development, research shows the Kyoto Windfarm is expected to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 90,000 homes across NSW each year.
This is comparable to burning 630,000 tonnes of coal per annum.
Mr Sydney said one turbine alone would produce enough power to satisfy the Scone townships annual consumption.
Energy produced by the windfarm will go into the main grid and will be first consumed by local users, then flow into the broader system.
According to literature supplied by Pamada, a buyer for the generated electricity is yet to be confirmed, but at this stage green energy should not come at any extra cost to the Scone community.
Other questions posed at the open day included potential dangers involved with directing the flow of energy to a power grid in Scone, as well as any job opportunities which may come as a result of the project.
In reply, Mr Sydney assured local residents that while the flow of electricity would certainly rise, anywhere up to ten times the current amount, there would be no added danger.
“At this stage the best option seems to be to run along Bunnan Road to an existing grid which will be upgraded to the east of Scone.”
Running the electricity along Bunnan road would mean taking existing power poles to the next level, but Mr Sydney said such a move would be simple and of no concern.
In reference to employment opportunities, handouts provided at the venue stated 2500 job vacancies are anticipated during the course of construction, however, when directly asked if a local electrical worker whose property would be immediately impacted by the project would be offered a job as compensation, Mr Sydney was forced to decline comment in the presence of media.
A Preliminary Assessment Report for a Project Application has already been submitted to the NSW Department of Planning, and Pamada continue to prepare an Environmental Assessment Report on behalf of the Kyoto Energy Park Company.
Once all reports are finalised a proposal will be put on display by State Government for official public comment for a period of 60 days.
“The State Government will make the final decision on the net benefit of the project,” Mr Sydney said.
By Nikki Taylor
20 February 2008
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