The Department of Planning’s decision to recommend the approval of a 43-turbine wind farm at Flyers Creek, 20 kilometres south of Orange, has ended years of uncertainty for the group opposing the $195 million development.
But it won’t end their fight to stop it getting the final OK from the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) – expected as early as March.
Patina Schneider from the Flyers Creek Wind Turbine Awareness Group said the opponents would now channel their efforts into preparing for the PAC’s public meeting early next year.
Although the department’s decision on Wednesday was not the one the group wanted, Mrs Schneider was still hopeful the PAC would “have some morals” and see the inadequacies of the wind farm and its “inappropriate” location.
“It’s only a recommendation by the department, it’s not rubber stamped,” she said.
“We’ll keep fighting, we won’t let them come in and ruin our lifestyle.”
Jonathan Upson, the senior development manager with the wind farm’s developer Infigen Energy, said NSW Health’s assessment of the project showed there would be no health effects for residents living more than 700 metres away from the turbines and all residences were at least one-kilometre from the proposed turbines.
But Mrs Schneider accused the department of negligence with its “inadequate” research and said the one-kilometre distance was nowhere near adequate.
Although her property is almost four kilometres from the nearest turbine, she said it was too complex to say who would be affected by noise from the wind farm.
The planning department has asked Infigen to scrap two of the turbines because of the unacceptable visual impact on a nearby property.
But Mr Upson said the company would pursue plans for all 43 turbines, after scrapping a 44th earlier in the year to address concerns about the visual impact to two residences in the east.
Three of the 26 landholders who signed a contract with Infigen to host wind turbines in the project’s beginnings now no longer want to be involved in the project and wrote objections to the department.
Although the department acknowledged the landholders had commercial agreements with Infigen – thought to be about $10,000 per turbine each year – their concerns were still considered.
If the project is approved Infigen will have to reach an agreement with all involved before construction begins.
But Mr Upson said the landholders had agreed to the project five years ago.
“The planning report insinuates that additional negotiation may take place and that’s not true … they have a contractual obligation so there isn’t any further discussion,” he said.
Mr Upson said unusually for a project of its size, 35 of the 120 submissions the department received supported the wind farm.
Work on the wind farm won’t start until at least one year after it is given final approval and construction is expected to take less than 18 months, Mr Upson.
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