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Are wind farms welcome in far west NSW?  

Credit:  By Noah Schultz-Byard, ABC Broken Hill, www.abc.net.au 26 March 2012 ~~

AGL’s takeover of the Silverton Wind Farm development in the far west of NSW has brought the 282 turbine project closer to reality than ever before.

Construction is expected to begin on the $500 million wind farm as early as next year and, while there is local support for the project, some residents are expressing concerns about the impact of the development.

The Owner of the Silverton Hotel, Peter Price, says he would rather the wind farm weren’t built in the area but he is happy with the current level of community consultation regarding the project.

“We’ve got a lovely area here and if we had a choice it would be nice to say ‘no, let’s go somewhere else’, but that aside there’s been a lot of work done.”

Mr Price says some Silverton residents were unsure about the potential impact of the wind farm, especially in the early days of the project, and he’s looking forward to finding out more about the development soon.

“There was a lot of uncertainty created and a lot of hype created amongst the local residents but AGL… (have) certainly indicated that they would consult with us out here at Silverton and that’s something we really have to do.”

Scott Thomas, General Manager of AGL Energy Limited, says the Silverton Wind Farm represents significant employment prospects for the area.

He says the project will generate somewhere between 250 to 350 jobs in its initial construction phase, some of which will be sourced locally.

“What’s happened in the past is you do bring in some construction labour but you also draw a lot of labour form local residents, so I would imagine that there will be 100-plus local jobs created during that construction phase.”

Broken Hill Mayor Wincen Cuy says he expects the wind farm will have a positive economic impact in the area but that community concerns do need to be addressed.

“I’m hoping that the economic benefit to the community will be ongoing.

“Quite obviously that’s going to be offset by some negatives out there as well, so I’m hoping all the positives will outweigh the negatives.”

With tourism playing an important role in the area, Mayor Cuy says people have raised concerns about wind turbines or electricity wires interfering with the view of the Mundi Mundi plains and the Living Desert National Park.

He says he has been assured that the wind farm will not impact on these locations, and that tourism in general will be unaffected by the development, though he does understands resident’s concern.

“Whilst this is in a planning stage, I think it’s a perfect time to pose all those questions and get the right answers.”

With a variety of political positions being taken on the future of wind farms in NSW recently, Mayor Cuy says he fully supports the industry’s development in the far west of the state.

“Renewable energies, I believe, is the way to go and I would love Broken Hill and the region to be known (as) the renewable energy centre.

“I’d like to think that we were the creators of the economic development of Australia 129 years ago (and) maybe we can actually reinvent our self and become the economic development of renewable energy in this part of the world as well.”

Source:  By Noah Schultz-Byard, ABC Broken Hill, www.abc.net.au 26 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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