Upper Lachlan Shire could be host to up to 108 more giant wind turbines in the near future with construction commenced on the Walwa site between Grabben Gullen and Gunning, and planning going ahead for Lerida site, between Collector and Gunning.
At Walwa 28 turbines are planned by the developer, Acciona, on the property owned by Mr. Alan McCormack.
At Lerida, Transfield is planning to erect up to 80 turbines on privately owned farmland principally used for sheep grazing. Acciona is a Spanish company, one of the biggest developers of alternate power generation in the world.
It is the largest developer in Spain, and already is operating wind turbines in Victoria. The turbines at both will be on a similar or larger scale to those now operating near Breadalbane. Sections of the turbines are already on site at Walwa, and Acciona has advertised locally for maintenance technicians.
Transfield Services is an Australian-based company with global projects now operating in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, South East Asia, India, Canada and South America. Project Manager for the Lerida site, Mr. Nick Valentine, spoke to Upper Lachlan Shire Councillors at their meeting at Gunning last Thursday.
He has already conducted a community meeting at Gunning. The company has three other wind farms operating in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.
Environmental surveys had shown there would be limited clearance of native vegetation, but some threatened species had been recorded of which account would be taken. The environmental assessment would be submitted to authorities before Christmas.
Cr. Malcolm Barlow told Mr. Valentine he “took exception” to what he termed misleading statements and exaggerations in the Transfield brochure on Lerida.
He said the claim that the wind farm would power 80,000 homes was spurious because there were many times no power would be produced when the wind dropped.
Cr. Barlow also claimed that a promise of full time local jobs associated with the wind farm was “far from the truth,” given the experience of the wind farms already operating in the Shire. He also quizzed Mr. Valentine on the fire damping system in the turbines, to which Mr. Valentine replied that Transfield recognised that fire was an “enormous issue” and that appropriate fire protection was a required of the turbine manufacturers.
Cr. Mick Mayoh voiced concerns about the eventual dismantling of the towers towards the end of their effective life, particularly if there was no bond requirement on developers. He suggested the possibility of developers selling off to a “two dollar company” towards the end of operations, which could simply go bankrupt at dismantling time.
Mr. Valentine said he was sympathetic to the request for a bond and would take it back to Transfield. Cr. Paul Culhane added his concerns on the removal of structures of such a size, and hoped that Transfield had a plan for this.
Mr. Valentine commented that there were only two existing residences within two kilometres of the turbines, although there were “a couple more” under construction. with around a hundred people visiting the presentation during the day.
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