Upper Lachlan Councillors were not happy with the response by the State Director of Planning to questions on the current situation of the Taralga wind farm.
But there was a heated difference of opinion on just how Council should act as a result.
Cr. Malcolm Barlow set out a series of further questions he believed should be put to the Director (Mr. Sam Haddad), some of which met objections by other Councillors.
Cr. James Wheelwright in particular was opposed to the response suggested, which he described as “rubbish,” which brought a heated “you talk rubbish too” from Cr. Barlow.
Cr. Wheelwright said he believed the further questions on matters already replied to by the Director would make Council “look foolish.”
After Mayor Cr. John Shaw settled the debate down again, Councillors agreed that some of the Director’s responses had indeed been unsatisfactory, and that further clarification should be sought.
One answer that annoyed Cr. Barlow, but to which other Councillors felt there was no comeback, was the Director’s comment that funding of the wind farm was “not relevant” to the validity of the development consent, which had been given by the State planners.
Council’s question on funding arose from the developer’s announcement that its Chinese partner had withdrawn from the project.
But three questions sought by Cr. Barlow will be asked.
One relates to the specific date for commencement of construction.
Mr. Haddad’s reply on the starting date required was at variance with Council’s understanding that it would be February 2012 (dating from date of approval); the Director however claimed that consent did not apply until the developer obtained approval for the transmission line. This made the starting date June 25, 2014.
And to the query on what constituted a physical start to the project, Mr. Haddad replied there was no precise definition of what constitutes a physical commencement.
“But a wind farm is no different to any other project, including those for which Council is consent authority,” Mr. Haddad claimed.
He added that the developer had advised the State Department that it had undertaken survey and marking out of an access track, trial pits along this track, and borehole testing at the substation location.
“These works indicate physical commencement,” Mr. Haddad stated.
Council decided that the following questions would be directed at Mr. Haddad:
1. What legal entity currently holds consent for the Taralga wind farm;
2. Did original consent of February 23, 2007, and deferred consent of June 25, 2009, expire at February 23, 2012;
3. The Director will also be advised that Council had not yet received an acceptable traffic management plan, as required.
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