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Residents push for changes to wind farm laws  

Credit:  BY CLARE COLLEY, Blayney Chronicle, www.blayneychronicle.com.au 6 January 2011 ~~

Flyers Creek residents concerned about the wind farm proposed for the area plan to lobby the state government to review the laws governing wind farms.

Members of the Flyers Creek Wind Turbine Awareness Group want the legislation changed so that wind turbines have to be at least two kilometres away from houses and schools.

The residents say they were “left out in the cold” about the plans for the wind farm and were only notified of Infigen Energy’s interest in the area “a couple of months ago”.

“We thought it [the wind farm] was all just talk,” resident Patina Schneider said.

Infigen development manager Frank Boland said a number of planning factors, including the visual impact and noise produced by the turbines, will determine the distance between wind turbines and residences as there is currently no legislation setting a minimum distance.

“Turbines have been approved 500 metres away from houses in South Australia,” he said.

Mr Boland said the state’s “very tough” noise standards for wind farms will dictate the distances between the turbines and homes in the area.

“If you comply with those standards there is absolutely no detrimental effect,” he said.

Mr Boland said most residences are greater than two kilometres away with some of the landholders closer.

Mrs Schneider said the awareness group was formed after Infigen Energy presented their plans for the area at a meeting at the Tallwood Hall in November.

“We’ve had no say in it at all,” she said.

“The meeting at Tallwood was the first thing.”

She, along with many other residents, was disappointed that the information exhibited was outdated with some residences not shown on maps presented at the meeting.

Mr Boland said the company’s community consultation was “ongoing” and as a result of the open day at Tallwood they had abandoned plans for two of the wind turbines near Beneree, bringing the total number of turbines down to 44.

“We had the two open days and also individual consultation with everyone and those two turbines were identified as the most problematic,” he said

The public will again have a chance to comment when the company submits their development application to the department of planning later in the year.

The awareness group have prepared a petition to the state government asking for the legislative assembly to intervene and prevent the development going ahead or to create a two kilometre exclusion zone around the turbines if the project is approved.

“If they can’t halt these things put them far enough away from houses and schools,” Mrs Schneider said.

In the petition the group outline their concerns with the proposed wind farm including the visual effects, noise levels, impact on heritage items, effect on the area’s rural roads, health effects, property values, and the impact on the environment.

However, the group’s primary concern is the effect the turbines will have on Errowanbang Public School, situated in the midst of the proposed wind farm.

The group believes student numbers at the school will dwindle if the development goes ahead as it will deter people from living in the area.

“The school has doubled its numbers but people aren’t going to want to live there,” she said.

Mrs Schneider said there have been reports of people abandoning their homes in areas with wind farms in both Australia and internationally and she is concerned the same could happen at Flyers Creek.

Mr Boland said Errowanbang Public School will be at least 1.5 kilometres away from the nearest wind turbine proposed by the company.

Mrs Schneider believes other renewable energy options such as tidal power and waste-to-energy should be explored and existing forms of energy should be “cleaned up” before the wind farm is approved.

“It’s a supplementary source of power,” she said.

“There’s already been so much destruction so why not fix what we have already got.”

“The older generation think it’s like Carcoar [Wind Farm],” another member of the awareness group, Maureen Campbell said.

“People are saying they aren’t harmful but they don’t have to live there.”

Source:  BY CLARE COLLEY, Blayney Chronicle, www.blayneychronicle.com.au 6 January 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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