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Push for Silverton wind farm buffer

Residents from Silverton, near Broken Hill, say they want a 7km buffer zone between the town centre and any wind turbines.

Members of the community met with energy company AGL last night to discuss progress on the proposed 250-megawatt wind farm there.

The company told the meeting the locations for the 75 – 100 turbines will be decided in the next five to six months.

Silverton Village Committee chairman Albert Woodroffe says residents have made their views clear.

“It’s a 7km arc from the closest residents would give us some satisfaction here,” he said.

“It’d ease the visual impact on the town, numerous people at the meeting tonight expressed that, so if they can get the dollars and cents out of the picture and get a bit of compassion into the project, that’d make me happy.”

AGL’s manager of power development, Neil Cooke, says there are other concerns, including which locations will generate the most wind power.

But he says the company is listening to the community’s views.

“We are taking that into consideration,” he said.

“When we go out for the request for tender, we will be asking them for options for putting the turbines of putting the turbines back 4 1/2kms, 5, 5 1/2, 6kms from the town.”

The company has received nine applications for tenders, and will ask four or five of those applicants to tender for the project next month.

Neil Cooke says the company is planning to build a bypass road so heavy trucks from Adelaide can avoid travelling through Broken Hill.

He told the meeting the company is looking at two options: a shorter road that would cost around $3 million, and a longer road that would cost up to $8 million.

He says the company will consider the views of locals.

“What we want to do is get feedback from the community, and what we’ll do then is we’ll review that internally,” he said.

“And then we’ll come back with some further discussion during the next community consultative committee meeting.”

Chairman of the Silverton Village Committee, Albert Woodroffe, says he wants to see the longer road.

He says heavy trucks on the road could deter tourists, and the company should invest in the future of the town.

“Problem solved, it gives a loop road for Broken Hill, and a wonderful legacy at the end,” he said.

This week, AGL said it will halt investment in power generation in South Australia because of pricing decisions made by state regulators.

The company’s chairman told its AGM in Sydney he is also reviewing options in New South Wales.

But Mr Cooke says those statements will not affect the Silverton Wind Farm.

“We’re expecting to move forward with the Silverton Wind Farm as we’ve been communicating since we purchased Silverton Wind Farm Holdings,” he said.

“We’re expecting that the project will go to the AGL board around Q3 2013, and the board’s decision will be based on market conditions.”

AGL bought the rights to the wind farm in March, 2012.