Eden residents have just three more weeks to get submissions in about the proposed wind farm development around the South East Fibre Exports (SEFE) site on Twofold Bay.
Council received a development application from renewable energy company EPURON on September 7 to install a seven-turbine wind farm and published detailed impact studies on its website last week with a 30-day window for public comment.
The application comes after months of research and public consultation, and EPURON project officer Daniel Gilbert said this week that the response to the proposal has been positive.
“We’ve done a lot of things such as speak with local landowners and have information days and so far the response has been optimistic,” he said.
“In general people are happy to promote renewable energy and people are quite happy with the site, which is already an industrial site. This has reduced concern about noise, because it’s an industrial chip mill so that has helped a lot.”
Mr Gilbert said there would also be employment benefits for local workers during the construction phase of the project, although he conceded there would only be a minor caretaking role available at the small farm after that.
The proposal is part of the state government’s renewable energy strategy that aims to have four times the amount of power generated by wind and other renewable sources by 2020.
Should the Eden wind farm go ahead, the seven 130m-tall (to the top of the wing arc) turbines would supply enough power for 4000 homes, although that will be fed into the electricity grid rather than directly to Eden.
But not everyone is happy at the prospect.
Boydtown resident and environmental lawyer Peter Barber said that a wind farm on the proposed site would cause significant financial loss.
“I estimate we would lose hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars because of the negative visual impact they would have,” he said.
“Even if we lost 10 per cent of tourism because of them, that would be a huge amount.”
Mr Barber said there were a number of aesthetic concerns with the location of the turbines that would cause this loss of tourism appeal.
“These turbines are 150m tall at the top of the arc [the DA states 130m] and they’ll be very noticeable,” he said. “They’re white and they move, so they have that ‘look at me’ aspect. Plus they’ll be illuminated at night by the lights at SEFE.”
However, Mr Barber also conceded that wind farms are tourist attractions in themselves, although he didn’t believe the appeal would last long at the proposed site.
“With more wind farms planned for along the coast, they won’t be a novelty for very long,” he said. “They’d also be difficult to get to and wouldn’t be seen from the highway.
“Twofold Bay is Eden’s one major asset and anything that detracts from its natural beauty will make it less attractive to visitors,” he added.
“It’s crunch time for Eden – is it a tourist town or an industrial town?”
There are a number of detailed documents in relation to the wind farm DA on exhibition on the Bega Valley Shire Council website, www.begavalley.nsw.gov.au.
The link is under the Development Proposals heading on the main page.
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