Lachlan Council will seek the right to charge wind farm sites at the industrial/commercial rate instead of the current farmland rate.
At the urging of Cr. Malcolm Barlow, Council will approach the State Premier as a first step to making this zoning change which would see industrial rate charges levied on those areas apportioned to wind farm turbines.
At the present time the properties on which the turbines are located are rated entirely as farmland, with the property owners responsible for payment.
Cr. Barlow reported to Council on his attendance in May of the Crookwell 2/3 Wind Farm Consultative Committee.
He highlighted two major mattersd that needed follow-up: the rating situation and fire fighting.
Cr. Barlow said the developer, Union Finosa, representative had claimed that wind complexes were in effect “farms” because they harnessed a natural resource (wind) to produce electricity.
This argument had been countered by pointing out that coal-burning power stations also harnessed a natural resource to produce the same product, but they could not be called farms.
“Subsequent inquiries to the Australian Tax Office have confirmed that income from producing electricity (from whatever source) is not primary production, because agriculture is seen as producing food or fibre using soil, waste and sunshine,” Cr. Barlow stated.
“While this has some tax implications for host landholders, Council must consider whether or not the land on which turbines operate should be zoned as industrial or left as rural – and rated accordingly,” he added.
Cr. Barlow said turbine owners reaped a fortune from electricity consumers, and the host landholder also received a huge financial boost for no extra effort.
“So why should not the wider community that is impacted by the turbines also receive some benefit in the form of higher rate income to the local Council which can provide better local services?”
He urged Council to make a case to the Premier, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, and even the Australian Tax Office to have the issue decided.
General Manager Mr. John Bell pointed out that Victorian and South Australian Councils were able to charge industrial rates to wind farms.
“But it is not an option for us – we are not allowed to,” he added.
Mayor Cr. John Shaw commented that an approach to the Premier was likely to be more effective than one to the Department of Planning.
This course will be taken, requesting the Premier to take steps to have the land on which the turbines stood be classed as industrial, not farming, and be rated accordingly.
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