Anyone who has driven around regional Australia would no doubt have seen the abundance of wind farms popping up on the outskirts of small towns.
Jugiong could be the latest village to be surrounded by wind turbines with North Sydney-based company Epuron proposing to erect 152 turbines as part of their ‘Yass Valley Wind Farm’ project.
The wind farm is proposed for an area 12 kilometres east of Jugiong. Following the general line of the highway, the project would stretch back to 18 kilometres from Yass, bordering the township of Bookham.
Epuron reports the wind farm would have a maximum capacity potentially greater than 300 megawatts, together with the related electrical connections and other infrastructure.
The Yass Valley Wind Farm has been in the works since 2008, and the first of many wind monitoring masts was established in 2009.
Since then, Epuron has consulted with local landowners to complete the concept for the site.
According to their website the company is currently preparing a revised consultation plan to reflect the status of the project and will carry out the studies necessary to finalise its submissions report.
Harden Shire Councillor and Jugiong resident Neil Reid has been part of a number of meetings with involved stakeholders.
Speaking to the Herald, Cr Reid said his first and foremost concern is that the residents of Jugiong and the surrounding district are aware of what is happening and are not taken by surprise if approval for the wind farm is granted by the State Government.
“You will be able to see it from any vantage point in Jugiong so there’s no doubt it will affect everyone here,” Cr Reid said.
He said, as he understands it, there is still an extensive community consultation process to be undertaken by Epuron before the State Government will consider approving the project.
There is no doubt wind farms can be a controversial topic, however Cr Reid is not buying into the argument one way or another, he sais he simply wants the best outcome for Jugiong.
The entire project sits in the shires of Harden and Yass Valley, however given the nature and financial worth of the project, it will bypass council in terms of gaining approval and the Minister for Planning will be the one to sign off on it.
With each of the turbines to sit on private property, Cr Reid said one concern he does have is that a landholder may have a turbine 200 metres from their fenceline and collect revenue based on the fact the turbine is on their property, however the neighbour, for whom the turbine is still in sight, will get nothing.
Another key interest area for Cr Reid involves the actual installation of the wind turbines should the project be given the nod.
He said he wants to ensure Epuron hires local labour from Jugiong, Harden, Cootamundra and the surrounding areas where possible during the establishment phase.
Haven spoken with the Jugiong community in regards to the proposed wind farm, Cr Reid said it is his feeling that opinions on the plan are mixed. He said some people are totally against the project while others remain ambivalent, recognising the need for alternate energy sources and the fact wind farms have to be located somewhere.
The Yass Valley Wind Farm, if approved, is expected to operate in conjunction with the already approved ‘Conroy’s Gap Wind Farm’.
Conroy’s Gap is one of Epuron’s smaller projects and achieved development consent in 2007.
Comprising 15 turbines and a maximum capacity of 30 megawatts, the Conroy’s Gap Wind Farm is located between Bookham and Yass and relatively close to Woolgarlo, a popular destination with Cootamundra locals.
Epuron is now finalising the wind farm layout for the Conroy’s Gap Wind Farm to reflect the choice of wind turbines and will shortly commence the grid connection application process with Transgrid.
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