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NSW govt criticised over wind farm audit

The NSW government has been accused of waging a “holy war” on the renewable energy sector after ordering a noise audit of three wind farms because of complaints by residents.

NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday announced the independent audit of three government-approved wind farms near Canberra, saying the Capital, Cullerin Range and Woodlawn facilities were the subject of ongoing complaints from locals.

Mr Hazzard said previous investigations by his department found the farms were complying with noise limits but an independent noise consultant would determine the issue.

“The audit will also provide information on low-frequency noise from these wind farms to provide input into the finalisation of statewide wind farm guidelines,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Wind farms will play an important part in the state’s energy future. However, it is important the community has confidence these installations are operating in line with their consent conditions and they are not diminishing a local community’s lifestyle.”

The planning department would also assess visual issues and the impact of the wind farms on flora and fauna, he said.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the government was “continuing its holy war against renewable energy”.

“On behalf of the loudest voices, the O’Farrell government is victimising wind farms that are a crucial component of the solution to the state’s 60 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions,” Dr Kaye said.

Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley accused the government of “pandering to flat-earthers” opposed to wind energy.

“All the signals the government is sending out are hostile to the development of wind energy in this state,” Mr Foley said.

Origin Energy, the owners of Cullerin Range, said it welcomed the audit and any objective view it would provide on noise.

“We take noise conditions very seriously and are pleased that the minister has reaffirmed that the Cullerin Range Wind Farm is compliant with noise limits,” an Origin spokesperson said.

Infigen Energy, which owns the Capital and Woodlawn farms, also supported the audit, but questioned the need for another assessment.

“Given that these wind farms have already passed the most stringent noise assessments, we can only assume that there must be some political motivation to undertake further testing,” a spokesman for the company said.

The audit is set to be completed by August.