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Far west has its say on Silverton Wind Farm

Energy company AGL says it will consider building a bypass road to ease traffic concerns about its proposed wind farm at Silverton, in far west NSW.

The project’s community consultative committee met for the first time last night, and traffic management was high on the list of concerns.

AGL’s general manager of power development, Scott Thomas, said the company will look at building a road connecting the wind farm with the Barrier Highway to Adelaide.

“To get the feedback from the community that there is that potential to look at sort of bypassing some of those key roads, is certainly something that we’ll go out there and do some further work to better understand if that is a viable option,” he said.

He said the wind farm’s project manager will be out having a look at a site for the road today.

“We need to understand who owns the land, and we’ll continue to work it out from there,” he said.

Silverton resident, John Taplin, said a bypass road would ease his concerns about trucks blocking Silverton’s only access road to Broken Hill.

“Hopefully that’d get all the heavy loads off the Silverton road, straight in and just cross over the Silverton Road, so therefore you wouldn’t get much congestion at all,” he said.

Peter Price, who lives in Silverton and owns the Silverton Hotel, said he’s concerned about traffic congestion and hopes the company goes ahead with a bypass road.

“It does open up another route into Silverton or the Silverton road, it gets all the traffic off the Silverton road,” he said.

“At the moment there would only be that one crossover at the grid onto the daydream mine.”

Opportunities for local business

Anne Bransdon represents the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce on the consultative committee and she said the local business community is eager to be involved in the wind farm project.

“It’s really important that AGL or any other company that is investing in the region has conversations with local business people and industry representatives to determine if they can actually employ those people.”

She said the Chamber of Commerce will make sure that AGL and the companies bidding for the construction contract are made aware of what local businesses have to offer.

“We’re about to embark on a project where the Broken Hill Chamber of Commerce will develop a directory of each business and what (their) capacity is to be able to work on this project.

“Essentially it means that anybody who is involved in tendering for this project will have information on what local businesses can supply to them in the construction phase.”

Ms Bransdon says AGL has already been engaging with local businesses.

“AGL are very keen to be able to employ local businesses and they recognise that there are some skills, knowledge… that they can use, which means that they don’t need to bring it in from away.”

Scott Thomas has previously told the ABC the project is expected to generate between 250 and 350 jobs during construction and some of those are expected to be sourced locally.