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Turbines at ‘saturation point’

Upper Lachlan Shire mayor John Shaw is concerned about the abundance of wind farms appearing in the area.

He is worried that the shire is starting to suffer from what he calls “wind farm overload”.

“Land values in the shire have actually decreased because of the amount of wind farms in the area,” he said.

“It’s getting towards a bit of a saturation point now.

“We didn’t really want to get to the point where we would have a wind tower on every hill, but it’s starting to get to that stage.

“I suppose I’m asking when is enough actually enough?” Mr Shaw says that this is now the 12th wind farm proposal for the Upper Lachlan area, with five already operating or under construction- the Crookwell 1,2 and 3 wind farms, the Cullerin Range farm 15kms east of Gunning, and the Acciona wind farm 20kms north east of Gunning.

Approval has also been granted for wind farms to be built at Taralga and Gullen Range near Collector. These farms could have close to 100 turbines operating on each property.

And now another new wind farm has been proposed approximately 8kms east of Biala, between Gunning and Grabben Gullen.

It will contain up to 40 turbines spread over 29 different allotments on two properties at a cost of $30 million. The farm will be developed by Newtricity, a renewable energy company based in Ireland since 2004 and who are now also a registered Australian owned company. They claim extensive experience with wind farm projects across Europe, the UK and North and South America.

The farm would also have transmission lines connected to the state grid that would either run through to Goulburn or be attached to the Gullen Range Wind Farm transformer currently under construction near Collector.

The turbine models are yet to be confirmed, but their estimated height would be between 130 and 150m from ground level to blade tip, and 80 to 100 metres to the top of the tower itself.

Newtricity would also build a substation and control buildings on the site, and has submitted its proposal and a preliminary environmental assessment to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

Environmental Resources Management Australia (ERM) through representative Adam Cockburn has been assisting Newtricity with community consultation, environmental impact statements and general project management involved in the planning and approval processes.

Mr Cockburn also gave details of the plans at a recent meeting of Upper Lachlan Shire Council on June 20.

Because the project is of state significance, it is up to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, not the Council to determine whether it gets approved.

The schedule for the wind farm’s operation is for approval to be gained by mid 2014, with construction to take place over two years from 2015-2017.

Initially the farm will be operative fro twenty years until 2037, and should be decommissioned by 2038.

Mr Cockburn has also suggested a ‘drop in’ session be held this Saturday July 13 with landholders and relevant agencies involved. A Community Consultative Committee will also be set up.