Not every wind farm development seeking approval will be built, according to a NSW Environment officer who spoke to the last meeting of Upper Lachlan Council.
Dr. Chris Briggs told the Council that there was a point at which the capacity of the State system would be filled, and no further wind farms could be accommodated. “That is why there is a scramble to get development approvals at the moment,” Dr. Briggs said.
Dr. Briggs is with the Renewable Energy Precincts Office of Environment and Heritage in the Premiers Department.
And to questions on the claims that “infrasound” from the wind mills posed serious problems, Dr. Briggs responded that health authorities had dismissed these claims as not scientifically proven, and that NSW had one of the most stringent noise requirements in the world.
This was strongly disputed by Cr. Malcolm Barlow, who quoted from a number of sources which claimed research had pointed to infrasound problems.
One such researcher had suggested that infrasound (sound waves at a level below normal hearing threshold) was a problem up to five kilometres from the turbines. He described the views expressed by Dr. Briggs as “lopsided” and gave no recognition of opinions by other qualified researchers.
Dr. Briggs responded that health authorities did not consider some of these views as valid.
“A considerable body of evidence indicates that it is not a health problem,” he said.
Dr. Briggs added that there were thousands of turbines in populated areas throughout the world – with wind farms operating over the past two decades.
Cr. Mick Mayoh made the point that information in a brochure presented by Dr. Briggs to Councillors contained information and opinions dating back three years.
Mayor Cr. Shaw told Dr. Briggs that Upper Lachlan now had eleven wind farms either approved or built. “The questions comes when is enough enough; when will the rest of New South Wales play their part.”
Cr. Shaw added that he also considered the conditions imposed on some of the residents involved in the Gullen Range development were “quite unfair.”
“The developers have ignored our Development Control Plan. The closest to it is Walwa, where the nearest home in 1.8 kilometres from a turbine, which got close to it (the 2kms set back.)”
Cr. Brian Moloney said the increasing height of turbines created problems.
“Is their any way Local Government can put a restriction on height?”
Dr. Briggs: “Not that I know of.” Dr. Briggs told Council that the State must have wind energy to meet the Federal Government’s renewable energy targets.
All Councillors were provided with a 14-paqge brochure titled “The wind energy fact sheet,” produced by the NSW Environment, Climate Change and Water. The brochure was strongly in favour of wind farms as a source of renewable energy.
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