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Wind farm guidelines “slap in a face to Councils”

Cr. Malcolm Barlow, in a personal submission to the State Government’s proposed new guidelines for wind farm development, has described them as a “dog’s breakfast” and a “slap in the face” to Councils.

He claimed the guidelines failed to provide a strong, certain and straightforward path that both protects the safety and amenity of Tablelands communities and lets the wind energy industry know precisely where it can and cannot build its “controversial and socially divisive industrial projects.”

Upper Lachlan Council itself has not yet decided on its own submission, but will consider a report from Planning Director Mrs Tina Dodson before preparing a final response to the proposed new guidelines.

In his lengthy submission, Cr. Barlow tackles the guidelines clause by clause, and finds problems in virtually all of them.

In his preamble to his detailed criticism, Cr. Barlow states: “In a democracy it is fundamental that elected authority must over-ride appointed authority.

“The Guidelines’ virtual dismissal of a meaningful role for elected local Councils in favour of a system of appointed committees, regional panels, a planning commission and Departmental bureaucrats means the draft clearly fails this test.”

He categorises the 2.0 kilometre set back requirement in the Guidelines as a “Clayton’s” move that provides no certainty of protection for those citizens affected.

The Guidelines, he claims compare unfavourably with those of Victoria, which nominates “no-go” areas which would protect highly regarded and iconic landscape and cultural areas.

Cr. Barlow claims that in Victoria the 2 kilometre set-back was definite (unless voluntarily waived), and that Councils there have a major role to play.

“The 2.0 kilometre set back (in the NSW Guidelines) is vague and open to manipulation if not to abuse,” Cr. Barlow claims.

Another target for Cr. Barlow’s criticism are the Conditions for Consent, which he described as “too generous.”

The five years now allowed between consent and commencement of construction was “far too long – except for opportunistic entrepreneurs waiting for the best price for their paper carbon credits,” Cr. Barlow submits.

“The definition of start (i.e. physical commencement) is a farce as has been well and truly illustrated by the shameful case of Crookwell 11,” Cr. Barlow asserts.

Cr. Barlow’s submission covers every aspect of the proposed Guidelines and includes a large number of references to other publications and opinions to support his arguments.

Submissions from members of the public and organisations have to made to the NSW Department of Planning by the end of March.