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The wind farm debate has been a divisive one in the Yass Valley in recent times, yet initial responses to new guidelines for wind farm developments in NSW have met with agreement from both sides – so far.
The new draft wind farm guidelines have been given an initial optimistic reception but most are still hesitant to throw their full support behind it.
The guidelines also confirm the NSW coalition government’s commitment to the renewable energy goal of having 20 per cent of the state’s energy supplied from renewable sources by the year 2020 – a goal set by the previous state Labor government.
The Boorowa District Landscape Guardians (BDLG), who have been opposed to local wind farms, think the new guidelines are a step in the right direction.
“We definitely think it’s a positive start,” BDLG member Mike Inkster said.
Mr Inkster was pleased the NSW government has created a two kilometre exclusion zone around turbines, with developers needing written consent to put a turbine any closer to residences.
Although Adrian Maddocks, senior development manager at Wind Prospect, said he hadn’t had a chance to thoroughly examine the guidelines, he was confident their plans wouldn’t change too much.
Mr Maddocks said his group would take the two kilometre setback into consideration when planning the proposed Bango wind farm, north of Yass.
“We’re in the initial design phase… working out where we can and can’t put them,” Mr Maddocks said.
Mr Inkster said the new setbacks would reduce some noise impacts which, according to some groups, can lead to health concerns.
“I’m not convinced that two kilometres is sufficient to completely remedy the noise… one of the solutions could be that the turbines may need to be turned off at night,” he said.
Federal member for Hume, Alby Schultz, has been outspoken against wind farms and thinks further work needs to be done.
“The draft policy is a good start but we really do need a moratorium and commission of inquiry into the affects of wind farm development as there are more serious issues attached to wind farms that still need to be addressed,” Mr Schultz said.
The local state member, Katrina Hodgkinson, said although there was no official moratorium on wind farms the government hadn’t approved any since it was elected last year.
“Effectively there has been one anyway [a moratorium]… one of the reasons is we wanted to get the framework in place,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
One of the key aspects of the new guidelines was enforcing community consultation, something the BDLG is very pleased about.
Mr Maddocks said Wind Prospect have community consultations planned, with an open day to be held in March or April.
“We’ve already got that covered… As part of our projected plans we always have a strong consultation process.”
Mr Schultz said people in the Hume electorate had contacted him with concerns about the lack of community consultation.
“These people do not feel as though their concerns have been listened to which makes me wonder how the draft policy can possibly reflect a holistic and considered response to wind farm development in this state,” Mr Schultz said.
Ms Hodgkinson has encouraged anyone with concerns to make a submission to the draft policy, which will be on exhibition until March 14.
Other developers of wind farms in the region, Windlab and Origin, were not available for comment.
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