With the rapid rise in applications for wind farms across NSW the State Government is currently drafting guidelines to regulate approvals and construction of farms.
The NSW opposition has called on the government to immediately clarify its position to put the concerns of rural and regional residents to rest.
But the Member for Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay was quick to point out, it could be very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Shadow Planning Minister, Linda Burney, has said it is absolutely vital that communities are consulted on any changes to the guidelines around wind farm development.
“The NSW Labor Opposition calls on the Minister for Primary Industries to immediately allay community concerns and be open and transparent about the drafting of new wind farm guidelines,” Ms Burney said.
Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs, Mick Veitch said the development of new wind farm approval processes should only occur with comprehensive community consultation and debate.
“Wind farms are an important renewable energy source but farmers and communities must not be left out of government decision making around what are suitable locations for the turbines,” Mr Veitch said.
“I also note that some of the loudest concerns around wind farms have come from the Ministers’ own electorate of Burrinjuck.
“Minister Hodgkinson must listen to her electorate and the people of NSW and address the very real concerns in the community over this issue,” Mr Veitch said.
Mr Torbay indicated the opposition had been less than transparent itself when in government.
“That’s a bit rich, coming from a former government that prematurely approved developments and over-rode the requirement for a two kilometre buffer zone,” Mr Torbay said.
In November 2009 Mr Torbay attacked the then Planning Minister for approving a wind farm near Glenn Innes where two residences were less than 900 metres from the turbines.
At the time Mr Torbay said the decision was unacceptable and flew in the face of Glen Innes Severn and Inverell council guidelines that turbines should be at least two kilometres from people’s houses.
He also labelled the Labor Government’s decision as premature because it pre-empted the recommendations of an Upper House Committee inquiry into wind farms, which was still sitting at the time.
“This planning review has only just started, and I’m looking forward to be working with the NSW Coalition Government and working on things like those buffer zones,” Mr Torbay said last week.
“I support alternative energy, but there has to be a system of processes and I hope this review picks them up,” he said.
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