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Council encourages wind farm submissions

Mid-Western Regional Council general manager Warwick Bennett is urging residents to inspect and comment on the environmental assessment for the Crudine Ridge Wind Farm, now on public display.

Wind Prospect CWP has put forward proposals for a wind farm of either 106 turbines or 77 turbines south of Mudgee at Pyramul, with the potential to power up to 57,600 hours a year.

Mr Bennett said it was important that residents make a submission on the proposal, regardless of whether they were in favour or against wind farms.

As the wind farm is a state significant project, the development application will be assessed by the State Government and not by Mid-Western Regional Council.

Mr Bennett said as council was not the approval authority, it was not council’s place to take a stance for or against the project.

However, in its submission to the Department of Planning, council will raise issues including the effect of heavy traffic on roads to the proposed site.

More than 1272 oversized vehicles and 118 semi-trailers will be required to bring turbine components to the site, travelling via Hill End, Road, Windeyer Road and Pyramul Road.

Mr Bennett said there would be approximately 200 vehicles movement to and from the site during the 18-month construction period. During construction of the turbine base, 42 concrete trucks per day are expected to use the roads.

“This will be a substantial increase in traffic on roads which are currently only used for local traffic,” he said.

“The bridges are narrow, the causeways are narrow and the roads are not suitable for loads of up to 70 tonnes.

“If they don’t upgrade the road, people will die – I have no hesitation in making that statement..”

Mr Bennett said the likely route for heavy vehicles transporting components from Newcastle would be from the Golden Highway through Dunedoo and Gulgong to Hill End Road.

Mid-Western Regional Council will call on the State Government to require Wind Prospect CWP to complete the road upgrade to the site before construction of the wind farms begins, rather than deferring negotiations on road contributions until after approval.

Council has estimated the cost of upgrading the roads at $25.9 million, taking up to two years to complete.

“We do not want another Ulan Road debacle,” Mr Bennett said, referring to the ongoing discussions with mines over who is responsible for road funding.

Council will push for a guarantee or bond to ensure that the turbines are removed at the end of the project’s life. Council’s submission will also raise issues of bushfire risk and visual pollution.

“We know that the wind farm will have environmental benefits and help Australia meet its renewable energy targets of 20 per cent [renewable energy generation] by 2020, but we need to ensure our community is adequately protected from the impact,” Mr Bennett said. “We need to try to minimise as far as practicable the impact.”

The environmental assessment for the Crudine Wind Farm can be inspected at the Mid-Western Regional Council offices or on the Department of Planning website or the project website: www.crudineridgewindfarm.com.au.

The deadline for submissions is March 13, 2013.