Two development applications have been lodged proposing the construction of separate wind farms near Rye Park and Rugby.
The Yass region has been noted as a target area for electricity production through wind farms and numerous applications have been received by the NSW government over the past few years.
According to two DAs by wind companies Epuron, Suzlon Energy Australia and Windlab Developments, the Rugby and Rye Park projects will include 200 combined turbines and potentially create around 230 jobs during construction.
There will be an estimated 27 fulltime jobs on offer once construction is complete. The size of the wind farms means they can be considered as ‘major projects’ by the NSW government and priorities for the state Minister for Planning; the NSW government has committed to assessing renewable energy projects that have a capital cost of more than $30 million within four months.
The Coalition is against this move, as according to incumbent member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson, it would diminish local government input.
“One of the biggest complaints I have with wind turbines is that communities have no real say in whether industrial wind turbines are erected in their community, or not, as the government planning laws allow them to be rubberstamped by Labor’s Planning Minister,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
Christian Democrats Party candidate Ann Woods agreed there needed to be improved procedures for community consultation.
“There needs to be correct processes to ensure they don’t inhibit or devalue properties… appropriate buffer zones need to be in place and the noise restrictions need to be analysed fully,” Ms Woods said.
She suggested the approval process be presided over by local councils as approvals at a state level can be “fraught with danger.” Greens candidate Iain Fyfe also said local councils needed to be more involved in the discussions around the placement of wind farms.
“Councils need to be advocates for their land and the people in the shire… it’s really a matter of ensuring the correct guidelines are in place,” Mr Fyfe said. Ms Hodgkinson added that there had been “huge angst” in local towns and she didn’t want to see communities divided.
“Local communities must be given the opportunity to be heard by government when wind turbines are proposed,” she said. Ms Woods, who is personally in favour of wind farms, is concerned about the processes taken by the government after speaking with some locals who may be affected.
“My concern is that there is a real possibility that the state government will push through the applications before the election,” she said. If the applications are rushed through Ms Woods was worried that landowners’ only option would be to take the matter to the Land and Environment Court.
“That would take a dreadful toll on people,” she said. “Once the state gives approval it’s a minefield.” Finding renewable energies is “something we need to do”, according to Mr Fyfe, and wind power is a proven technology. He said the community, however, needed to be more informed about the issue.
“There are many people who welcome wind farms and there are many who claim they’re a threat to property values and quality of life,” Mr Fyfe said. The NSW Government will be releasing guidelines on wind farm planning soon.
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