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Windfarm deal done  

Credit:  Wellington Times | April 5, 2013 | www.wellingtontimes.com.au ~~

Wellington Council has inked a deal with Infigen Energy the developers of the proposed Bodangora windfarm which in the long-term will hand the community more than $2.1 million dollars.

The establishment of a community benefit fund and an annual contribution of $25,000 for road maintenance are just two of the features of a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) signed by Wellington Council and Infigen Energy’s Bodangora Wind Farm Pty Ltd.

The agreement relates to a project currently before the state government that may see more than 30 wind turbines constructed in the Bodangora area.

Wellington mayor Rod Buhr said the VPA would see council obtain more than $2,100,000 in contributions from the project’s proprietors during a 25-year period.

“While council holds an unbiased view toward the project, it is imperative that council is proactive in ensuring there is a process in place which will not only provide some benefit to the community but will also off-set potential impacts of such a development,” Mayor Buhr said.

The money obtained through the community benefit fund is set to be put towards helping local community groups and organisations, with council to establish a trust which would provide guidelines on how it would be distributed.

Project manager for Infigen Frank Boland said the council had worked collaboratively with them to get the best outcome for the project.

The two main aspects to the agreement firstly is to ensure infrastructure, such as roads are up to a certain standard before construction begins, and the second relates to contributions Bodangora Wind Farm will provide for the expected 25-year life of the project.

“Prior to any work beginning, an independent third party will conduct a traffic study for the project and, if determined necessary, Infigen will fund the upgrade of road infrastructure,” Mayor Buhr said.

“Once construction commences, council will receive $25,000 annually for road maintenance as well as $60,000 each year for a community benefit fund and other costs related to the project for 25 years.”

The money obtained through the community benefit fund is set to be put towards helping local community groups and organisations, with council to establish a trust which would provide guidelines on how it would be distributed.

“Once the trust deed is in place, a board with appropriate skills made up of a cross-section of the community will be established.

“These members will then work together to ensure the money is used to provide the best possible outcomes consistent with the trust deed objectives.”

Mr Boland says he backs the Wellington mayor ‘’ It is timely these agreements which will benefit both the Bodangora and greater Wellington are made before the determination of the farm to ensure the community they are a central part of this project’’ he said.

Mayor Buhr said it was important to note that council had sought advice from a number of areas in establishing the VPA.

“This is not something council has come up with by itself. In completing this agreement staff have liaised with the Department of Infrastructure and Planning, and other professionals who have had experience in formulating such agreements in the past,” he said.

“While it is important to remember the project is still before the State Government for approval, having the agreement in place is the right step to ensure the interests of residents are covered now and into the future.”

Mr Boland said if given the go ahead by NSW Planning the company would begin talks with off take power purchasers.

Source:  Wellington Times | April 5, 2013 | www.wellingtontimes.com.au

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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