Mid-Western Regional Council has expressed concern it will not be able to properly assess future applications for wind farms in the region.
Concern comes from council’s submission to the state government’s Draft Planning Guidelines for Wind Farms on exhibition and open for public comment to March 14.
The submission – to be presented at tonight’s council meeting – states council might not have the expertise assess wind farm applications to an adequate standard.
It also expresses concern over anticipated consultancy fees and statutory application fees would leave Council “out of pocket”.
Council’s Senior Environment Officer, Linda Shreeve, and group manager development and community services, Catherine Van Laeren, prepared a report detailing planning guidelines to councillors.
Mrs Van Laeren said the region was identified as a high wind area and a number of mid-scale proposals up to $30 million would be assessed by council but determined by the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
However council would still be required to undertake assessment in a range of fields and would not be adequately compensated.
She said an example would be processes leading up to the construction of access roads.
“From an environmental perspective we would have to investigate the impacts on local plants and animals, particularly for threatened species as well as look for any possible Aboriginal artifacts,” Mrs Van Laeren said.
“As we know, this would likely take time and have a great impact on the forming of access roads.”
General manager Warwick Bennett said one of council’s major concerns was how materials would be transported to wind farm sites and how this would affect roads.
“Under each tower is 1100 tonnes of concrete – and there are 550 [towers planned] around the place,” he said.
“Although the concrete will be made on site, the gravel will have to be trucked in.”
Mrs Van Laeren said the submission was part of council’s high level of responsibility to represent the whole community, from the economy to the environment, in policy making.
Council has suggested the planning guidelines extend a current 21-day exhibition period for Site Compatibility Certificates as it could be seen as “paying lip service to the consultation process and trying to push the application through”.
It also asks for the two-kilometre buffer zone around turbines to be reviewed to ensure residences are adequately protected from noise.
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