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Shire’s willing and cable

Wind farm company Goldwind is exploring other options, following council rejection of its plan to rip up rural roads for underground cables.

Upper Lachlan Shire Council put the kybosh on the proposal in a narrow vote at last Thursday’s meeting, with Mayor John Shaw also voting to defeat the request.

The company wants to lay high voltage cables in the Bannister area, connecting the northern and southern sectors of its Gullen Range wind farm to the electricity grid. The work would mainly affect Leary’s Lane and Price’s Lane.

But the plan met with stiff resistance. Some 20 residents crowded into the Council Chambers to lobby their case.

Cr Malcolm Barlow had successfully overturned a recommendation the matter be heard in closed session due to “commercial in confidence” considerations.

Kialla Rd resident and NSW Landscape Guardians president, Humphrey Price Jones said the area affected by the wind farm had already been subjected to “significant devastation,” the Crookwell Gazette reported.

He described Goldwind’s Environmental Impact Statement as “fundamentally flawed” and said nowhere did it suggest that Price’s Lane would be used as part of the development.

Mr Price-Jones said it was up to Council to decide the matter.

“Just what the developer does if Council refuses permission is up to them,” he told the meeting.

“…This is an opportunity for Council to draw a line in the sand that it is not going to be dictated to by this developer.”

He claimed Kialla Rd was already breaking up from wind farm trucks and now Goldwind wanted to “dig up” more roads.

Cr Brian McCormack declared an interest in the item as his brothers’ property lay within the development area. He stayed in the room but took no part in debate, the Gazette reported.

Cr Barlow moved the application be rejected on five grounds, including that it did not comply with Council’s “well researched and community supported” DCP;” that it set a precedent in terms of access to the grid; that the original application did not mention the need to lay cables along the lanes or that council permission was needed; and due to impacts on local traffic and road maintenance.

In addition, Cr Barlow said Council “should stand up for its ratepayers against overseas developers.”

Councillors who opposed the motion mainly did so on the basis that Goldwind would only go to the NSW Department of Planning to have the decision overturned.

Some also felt roads would be sealed as a result of the work.

“I’m going to vote for it, though I’m probably wrong. We’ll find out,” Cr Shaw said upon using his casting vote.

This was greeted with loud applause from the gallery, the Gazette reported.

Meantime, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that about $4 billion in private funding would be sucked away from Australia’s renewable energy industries over the next three years if the Coalition won government.

The report cited “confidential data obtained from banks and financial analysts”.

“The Coalition’s climate change plan is also $4 billion short of the funding required to meet its promised 5 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020, and is on track for a 9 per cent increase by that date, according to analysis commissioned by The Climate Institute, an independent think tank,” the article stated.

“Although the Coalition rejects that analysis, big investors are planning for the impact if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott axes the carbon price and dismantles the clean energy finance system.

“They expect that about $4.1 billion in private funding would be funnelled away from largescale renewable power, starving the sector of capital due to regulatory uncertainty and a lack of returns, according to sources in the carbon finance sector. This would likely lead to the construction of a rash of cheap wind farms after 2016, to meet the mandatory renewable energy target, which commits Australia to 20 per cent clean power by 2020.”

The article quoted a source from the industry as saying: “You will see a charge towards getting lots and lots of wind farms up at lowest cost because you have still got to meet the (renewable energy target).”

Goldwind’s response…