TWO families at the forefront of opposition to the Glen Innes Windfarm have conceded they had heard rumours of a proposed windfarm on the Waterloo range prior to building and purchasing dwellings within two kilometres of neighbouring properties that had entered into lease agreements with the windfarm developers, but said there was no indication the project would go ahead.
The two-kilometre setback is a key component of council’s windfarm development control plan (DCP). Members of the Glen Innes Landscape Guardians who have stated they “are not against sustainable energy solutions only inappropriate placement (of turbines)”, are pressuring council to use the recently formulated DCP as the basis of a submission to the Department of Planning when it puts the windfarm’s Environment Impact Study on public display, expected to be at the end of the month.
Frank McAlary, who owns several properties in the district including at Furracabad, declined to elaborate on comments he made during Thursday’s council meeting when he revealed he had known about the proposal for some years. However his daughter Suzanne admitted she and her husband Ashley Peake knew of the proposal when in 2006 they bought a farm near her father’s Furracabad valley property ‘Lombardy’, where they used to live. On their new block is a 100-year-old house, which they are currently renovating.
“Yes, we knowingly moved here but it’s a proposed development, its not approved. Do we all stop and put our lives on hold to see if the proposal becomes a reality? Sometimes proposals do not get off the ground,” she said. “If council actually had control guidelines in place (at that time) we wouldn’t be in this awkward position.”
She said while most people first heard about the project in April 2004 when wind monitoring towers were erected, it was not until joint-developer National Power and consultants Connor Wagner held a public consultation in Glen Innes last December that the full scale of it was revealed.
Ms McAlary said at the time, a representative from Connell Wagner told her there was only a 50 percent chance of the proposal being approved.
“In my naivety of it all I thought they were putting the turbines further back. Who in their right mind would place turbines on top of existing dwellings,” she said. “I certainly had no idea they (the turbines) were going to be 130m high. To my knowledge there is none that high in Australia. They are all about 60m or 80m (high).”
Meanwhile Phil and Maryanne Evans whose two-year-old house sits a mere 700m from a proposed turbine claim their only knowledge was when wind monitors were erected in 2004, two years after their plans for a house on the site were approved by council.
“In 2004 the former council sent out a letter to say the monitors were going up and if any residents had objections to make a complaint in writing,” Mr Evans said. “I wrote to the council and asked, ‘is this the beginning of a windfarm?’ but did not receive a response.”
Council’s general manager Hein Basson has previously stated that copies of the DCP have been sent to the Department for Planning and Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay, will be sent to the Minister as council’s response to the development application for the project.
Glen Innes Severn Council mayor Steve Toms said the council’s position on the DCP had not changed.
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