Federal government approval for the Glen Innes Sapphire Wind Farm has been delayed once again, following requests by the Abbott government for additional information.
The 159-turbine wind farm, located between Glen Innes and Inverell, was given the go-ahead by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure on June 26 and was expected to gain federal consent on Tuesday, after the decision was initially extended six weeks from its original August 13 deadline.
But a letter from the newly-elected government seeking further information on environmental offsets about a week ago essentially “stopped the clock,” senior development manager Adrian Maddocks said.
It has been a tense time for the renewable-energy industry since the Coalition government indicated it would review Australia’s renewable energy targets, if elected.
A decrease in the targets could alter energy pricing, resulting in reduced availability of power-purchase agreements.
Lower yielding energy initiatives could also be in jeopardy as returns may not be enough to justify project costs.
However, while the threat still looms, Mr Maddocks is confident the wind farm will be given the green light.
“I believe so,” he said.
“They requested additional offsets information that we need to provide.
“By providing that, hopefully it will allow them to make a positive decision to grant consent.”
Mr Maddocks said they will be in a position to hand over the required data in two to three weeks, after which time the countdown woudl begin again.
He anticipates a decision will be made about two weeks’ later.
Uncertainty aside, the first in a series of meetings of the community consultative committee will go ahead as planned on October 1.
The committee is made up of about 12 members, a mixture of company and community, Mr Maddocks said.
If approved, the Sapphire Wind Farm will produce up to 310 megawatts of energy.
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