Eden wind farm proponent Epuron has completed and submitted its submission addressing public concerns raised at a Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) meeting held in Eden on February 2.
However, Andrew Woodley, group manager planning and environment, Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC), said on Tuesday the final decision on the wind farm was still some months off.
“A public meeting was held on February 2, 2012. A number of requests for additional information were made at this meeting and as part of public submissions to council. A letter was sent to the applicant (Epuron) seeking additional information for council to complete an assessment of the proposal. A response was received from the applicant last week which I am currently reviewing,” Mr Woodley said.
“In terms of timeframes, I need to review this information and undertake further consultation and inspections of the site and surrounding area. I am also still awaiting comment from external agencies.
“The development application is defined as ‘Regionally Significant Development’ and is determined by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP). Once I have all the information that I need, I will complete an assessment report to the JRPP for determination.
“I would estimate that a determination of the development application would be a number of months away,” Mr Woodley said.
Epuron’s wind farm proposal includes the installation of up to seven wind turbines that would stand at an estimated height of 135 metres, positioned on the South East Fibre Export (SEFE) site on the southern side of Twofold Bay.
Epuron estimate that, in full operation, the wind farm would generate more than 32,000 MWh of electricity per year, sufficient for the average consumption of around 4200 homes.
Many clean energy advocates support the proposal, acknowledging that it would contribute to local, state and federal government renewable energy targets.
However most comment received to date on the proposal has been negative.
BVSC received a total of 101 submissions, 92 from individuals and nine from government agencies. Of the 92 individual submissions, 19 were in support of the proposed wind farm and 73 were objections.
The issue of most concern to critics of the wind farm is the visual impact of the turbines, with concerns about possible negative impact on tourism and noise also rating strongly.
According to a 2012 report by the CSIRO, ‘Acceptance of rural wind farms in Australia: A snap shot’, these concerns are typical of rural community responses – and how they are reported in the media – to wind farm developments.
“The most cited reasons for rejecting wind farms were: landscape change and visual amenity, noise impacts and poor consultation. The most cited reasons for supporting rural wind farms were: as a means to take action against human-induced climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support job creation.”
The peer-reviewed study by Brisbane researchers investigated attitudes to nine wind farms in various stages of development in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
A key finding of the CSIRO report is that there is much stronger support for wind farms than might otherwise be assumed from media coverage. This includes support from rural residents who don’t seek media attention or political engagement to express their views.