More than 15 Rugby region residents attended Boorowa Council’s Ordinary Monthly Meeting on Monday to voice their concerns about the proposed $390 million wind farm project.
During the meeting, Suzlon Energy and Windlab representatives were on hand to give Boorowa Council an update on the progress of the project and to answer questions from the wider public.
During the open forum, several landowners complained that information about the location of turbines was not being released in a timely manner.
Another concern was that the information session held in Rugby late last year failed to answer the many questions of landowners due to the ‘one on one’ exchange of information.
Attendee Charlie Arnott said the best way to inform landowners about how the project would impact them is in an open forum because any questions asked and answered will be of benefit to everyone in attendance. Information regarding how turbines would impact on farmers’ ability to use crop dusters would also be something that should be asked in an open forum, he said.
“Supplying information in a public forum is the best way to get the message across,” he said.
Suzlon Energy representative Michael Bagot said consultation with community stakeholders is an essential part of the process and said a public forum will be held at an appropriate time.
Sam McGuiness of ‘Willowmere’ said aerial fire crews could be limited in their ability to fight fires in Rugby due to a 1000 metre exclusion zone around turbines. He also raised the issue of a wind farm potentially lowering land values and hindering the ability of landowners to sub-divide farming land.
“We know fires do happen and if there is no aerial support because of a no go zone we could have a major problem,” Mr McGuiness said.
“I am all in favour of wind farms, but not when they hinder the normal practices in agriculture,” Mr McGuiness said.
Mr Bagot said he disputed claims that wind farms can contribute to depressed land values.
“There is documented evidence that wind farms cause marginal to no effects on land values,” Mr Bagot said during the meeting.
“We understand it is a controversial issue and a concern for the community.”
Mayor Wendy Tuckerman was forced to cut the open forum short and said afterwards it was clear the project is causing ‘angst in the community’.
A Suzlon Energy representative said extensive effort has been applied to discussing the project with neighbouring landowners in order that specific concerns can be taken into account.
“So far, the majority of people we have met support the idea of a wind farm at Rugby; a minority have expressed their doubts about the value and merit of wind energy,” the spokesperson said.
“Further studies and consultation are currently underway and must be completed before the details of the final wind farm design and any associated impacts are fully defined. Once the project is finalised, the proposal will be lodged with the Department of Planning.”
A draft layout plan of turbine sites will be available for public viewing at the next Suzlon Energy and Windlab public information session to be held next Tuesday March 8 at the Boorowa Recreation Club from 4pm to 7pm.
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