An all-day wind farm forum will be held in Yass next Monday. The NSW department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (ECCW) will host the meeting in order to provide information for farmers interested in creating an income stream from wind farms.
ECCW director general Lisa Corbyn said the free public forum was a response to interest received from landholders about wind farming as an agricultural business.
“There has been a high level of interest,” she said, “… especially on wind farm project management and development.
“The forum offers a unique opportunity for residents and landholders to gain further understanding about what makes a successful wind farm,” Ms Corbyn said.
NSW has been divided up into six Renewable Energy Precincts, with Yass in the NSW/ACT Border Region Precinct. The precinct covers Yass, Upper Lachlan, Harden, Goulburn-Mulwaree and Palerang local government areas.
According to the precincts regional coordinator, Andy Hughes, “We are the windiest precinct.”
As well as the current wind farm at Cullerin Range, wind farms are already planned for Gullen Range, Marilbra and Coppabella Hills, Carrols Ridge and Conroys Gap, which would create a total of 283 turbines.
Mr Hughes said there are likely to be more applications for wind farms in this precinct in the future. He said the forum was designed to provide information and allow issues to be discussed.
“If I had to describe it, what we’re trying to do is to get people talking,” he said.
“Most people don’t really understand the issues.”
The NSW government has set a target of having 20 per cent renewable energy by the year 2020 and according to Mr Hughes and Ms Corbyn wind farms will be a major source of energy in reaching that target. However, the government has also acknowledged that the consultation process to-date has been less than perfect.
A NSW standing committee report on rural wind farms, released in December 2009, said: “The committee notes the considerable level of concern that exists regarding current community consultation practices for wind farms.
The committee further notes that anxiety caused by this process is the antithesis of what most community consultation seeks to achieve. That is, to provide an opportunity for local residents who may be impacted by a development to voice their concerns and have them adequately addressed.”
The committee recommended that better consultation processes be put in place and that community members have adequate opportunity to raise concerns with developers regarding local wind farms.
The Yass forum would seem to be an attempt by the NSW government to consult better with the Yass Valley community about existing and potential wind farms in our area.
Speakers at the Yass forum will include:
– NSW Farmers Association delegate
– Peter Gain, a Gundagai-based lawyer with experience in the wind industry
– Russell Marsh, policy director Clean Energy Council
– Brett Cuthbertson from Windlab Systems Pty Ltd
– Mike Bagot Suzlon on the how, what and where of turbine installation – A host landowner of a large wind farm, on landholder experience
– Col Hackney from Country Energy on grid connection
– Jonathan Carle from the NSW Department of Planning
Mr Hughes said he is expecting that there will be opponents to wind farms at the meeting.
For the full story please see the print edition of Friday’s Yass Tribune, available from our office and from leading newsagencies across the region.
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