Epuron’s Yass Valley Wind Farm project has hit a snag after reports were confirmed that the Australian energy company has been told by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure to undertake further consultation.
The North Sydney based enterprise submitted their Preferred Project Report (PPR) in November last year, but it appears the consultation process was recently deemed unsatisfactory.
Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson told the Tribune it was great that concerned locals were being heard.
“I am very pleased to see that the Department of Planning and Infrastructure has recently informed Epuron, the proponent of the Yass Valley Wind Farm, that their Preferred Project Report was inadequate and needed changes,” Ms Hodgkinson said.
“In August, in the NSW Parliament, I raised the concerns of many local residents about the lack of adequate consultation by the proponent, a large part of this concern centred on the impacts on agricultural aviation.
“The Planning Minister has now informed me that his Department has advised the proponent to undertake further consultation, particularly on issues regarding aerial agriculture.”
Epuron’s construction manager Andrew Wilson said it was simply a case of “clarification” and vehemently denied that the consultation process was inadequate.
“Epuron is in the process of responding to a number of requests for clarification and additional information from the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure as part of the normal planning assessment process. None of these requests relate to insufficient public consultation,” he replied.
However Ms Hodgkinson says the proponent (Epuron) has been advised specifically to talk to “owners and users of airstrips”, which suggests that the consultation process was insufficient in that respect.
Ted McIntosh, a property owner on Black Range Road and aerial agriculturalist is adamant that Epuron’s consultation with him has been thin, considering his livelihood is on the line.
“The idea of a consultation process is to allow people to reach a consensus and there’s no way I can reach a consensus with them,” he said.
Under guidelines set out by the state government, a Community Consultation Committee (CCC) was set up, which has had five meetings to date. In attendance were representatives from Epuron, the Harden Shire and Yass Valley Council’s, Bookham Agricultural Bureau and ‘non-involved landholders’.
Chairman of the Committee Nic Carmody said he was not surprised that Epuron has been advised to submit an amended PPR.
“I’m an independent; I’m on the CCC to be a facilitator, the big issue is that the state government’s guidelines are not mandatory so [Epuron] can follow as little or as much as they want. The guidelines have to be legalised to hold wind farm proponents accountable,” Mr Carmody explained.
“It will have a huge impact both good and bad so the Department of Planning needs to make sure the consultation process has been thorough.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Infrastructure was tight lipped when contacted by the Tribune, only saying that they were still awaiting the amended PPR and that the final decision would likely be made by the Planning Assessment Commission.
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