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Grants awarded to NSW wind and solar farms

Nine community groups have been awarded $411,000 to help investigate setting up seven solar and two wind farms across the state.

The NSW government will invest $411,000 in new wind and solar farms to help meet its renewable energy target, Environment Minister Robyn Parker says.

Nine community groups will receive grants to fund planning and feasibility studies for seven solar and two wind projects in areas such as the New England Tablelands, Newcastle, Woy Woy and Warringah.

They include White Cliffs Sporting Club in northwestern NSW, which will use its $50,000 grant to research the best way to use a de-commissioned solar power station.

“When small communities decide they want to do something like this, a part of the barrier is finance to get the project up,” Ms Parker said on Thursday.

“Funding these projects will help NSW reach our renewable energy goal of 20 per cent by 2020,” she said.

The government also launched the Clean Energy Council’s community engagement guidelines on Thursday.

They include best practice standards for use when wind companies engage with local communities, as well as a guide to what people can expect when a wind farm is proposed for their area.

Speaking at the launch of the guidelines in Sydney, farmer Charlie Prell from Crookwell, on the southern tablelands, said there were potentially huge benefits to regional communities if they manage the development of wind farms.

He said claims that wind farms caused sleep deprivation, stress and serious long-term health problems were unsubstantiated.

“All landowners, hosts, neighbours and the general communities need access to good quality information,” he said.

“These guidelines are a great initiative and solid base to work from.

The government estimates NSW will attract $6.7 billion of investment and 3700 jobs if all currently proposed wind farms are delivered.