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Bigger part for Councils sought in wind farm bids

A strengthening of local Council input into wind farm development applications will be sought by Upper Lachlan in its submission to the State Government on its review of current guidelines.

At the Council’s February meeting, Planning Director Mrs. Tina Dodson presented a preliminary draft of a submission to the guidelines review.

In addition to points raised by Mrs Dodson, Council accepted a motion from Cr. Malcolm Barlow that would require a greater recognition of local Development Control Plans.

The motion was that: “where a Council’s Wind Farm Development Control Plan is well provenanced and has had community input and support, then its requirements should form part of the Director General’s conditions of consent, unless the DG can produce evidence that the DCP requirements are illegal, unreasonable or unsound.”

Other points in Council’s proposed submission will require that the 2 kilometres setback between a turbine and a residence be measured “as the crow flies” rather than on terrain.

The submission will seek to have proposed Community Consultation Committees established and functioning well in advance of a development receiving approval.

Such committees should have a Council representation equal to that of the proponent – as Councillors are answerable to the community they serve through the election process.

Mrs. Dodson also makes the point that the Upper Lachlan Development Control Plan was prepared in accordance with the Environmental and Assessment Regulations and “would appear to have more legality that the Draft Guidelines, yet the State Policy of 2011 expressly excludes Council DCPs. Section 79C of the Act specifically requires consideration of DCPs.”

At the meeting, Mr. Humphrey Price Jones outlined to Council the submission from the NSW Landscape Guardians.

This submission will again call for a moratorium on further wind farm approvals until more research has been done into the health impacts and noise issues associated with existing wind farms.

It also calls for a more rigorous re-assessment on wind farms already approved but not yet built.

The Landscape Guardians are calling for a minimum 5 kilometre setback to non-hose residences, schools and public buildings – plus a one kilometre setback from property boundaries to allow for safe agricultural activities such as aerial spraying and noxious weed control.

The submission will also call for construction commencement to be within 3 years of approval, with a possible extension of one year. If there is no commencement in that time, approval should lapse.

The Guardians also require that there be no compulsory acquisitions, and that turbines that do not meet required criteria for setback, noise and amenity must be removed from the plan prior to approval