Glen Innes Severn Council has adopted a development control plan (DCP) for wind farms restricting the proximity of turbines to residences.
The move was the result of a growing interest in the area for wind borne technologies, currently highlighted by two major wind farm projects in the Glen Innes Local Government Area lodged with the Department of Planning.
The DCP was formally adopted at council’s ordinary meeting on May 22 and will help ensure council has some policy to control or guide such developments now and in the future.
Mayor Steve Toms said the biggest issue the DCP set guidelines for was the setback distance for unrelated houses from turbines.
“The two kilometres setback was a benchmark set up by other councils but certainly takes into account noise and aesthetic studies,” he said.
“Obviously there are rules in place but there is a certain amount of controversy with how noise affects residents.
“The scale of these towers is rather higher than normal at 125 to 130 metres but we felt 2km to be a reasonable benchmark.”
However, Cr Toms pointed out the DCP would only apply to proposals that were not of State significance.
“Those projects currently with the department are deemed of State significance and the minister is the consent authority for them but certainly council is able to advise the minister and put forward any concerns of the community,” he said.
Cr Toms said attendance at the council meeting was up on usual.
“I’m sure that was the result of the DCP being on the agenda and certainly people are pretty interested in this issue,” he said.
“It is important to remember the DCP is supportive of renewable energy and we believe it is something that does need to happen but it must be balanced against the impacts it will have on the community.”
Dr Ashley Peake spoke at the meeting on behalf of concerned residents in the Furracabad and Matheson valleys – the proposed site for a 27-turbine wind farm – in favour of the DCP.
“We are gathered here to support the council’s development of its DCP for wind power generation and to support council’s adoption of the amended plan today,” he said.
“There were, I understand no public submissions opposing the DCP and in particular no opposition to the propose 2km turbine setback from neighbouring residences.”
Dr Peake’s said the residents’ only concern was that the wording of the DCP referred to “future” wind farms suggesting the policy would not apply to wind farms currently on the drawing board.
He suggested the removal of the word “future” from the DCP – an amendment that was made during the adoption of the plan.
It was also moved a copy of the DCP be forwarded to the minister and director general of the Department of Planning as well as Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay.
Mr Torbay said he would work with council and the community on their submission opposing the proposed development as it stood.
By Alysia Ferguson
3 June 2008
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