The company behind a 73-turbine wind farm currently under construction at Gullen Range near Crookwell has been rebuked by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure for building turbines in unauthorised locations and as far as 187 metres away from the approved sites.
Some of those turbines have been moved closer to homes.
The Department of Planning and Infrastructure said the variations in location had ranged from about one metre to 187 metres.
Legal action in the Land and Environment court is also being considered by the department which has requested a response from the company behind the development, Goldwind.
NSW Planning and Infra-structure executive director Chris Wilson said in a statement the matter was serious and was disappointed turbines had been built in unauthorised locations.
“It is essential the company stops work on the turbines that have been moved closer to homes,” Mr Wilson said.
Neighbouring landholder and NSW Landscape Guar-dians president Humphrey Price-Jones, Crookwell, said he thought the situation was “absolutely bizarre”.
“I think there should be a public inquiry into this development,” he said.
“The development is the worst wind turbine farm yet approved in NSW because of the proximity to other properties.
“There are more than 60 residents within a two kilometre range of the turbines.
“Some of those residents have seven or eight turbines within a two kilometre range of their homes.”
Mr Price-Jones said there were eight wind turbines from the Gullen Range farm which were very close to his boundary.
“We now live next to a vast industrial estate,” he said.
Mr Price-Jones said he had originally been approached by the developers of the Gullen Range wind farm, given his property is high on the range, but said he was not interested “given the impact it would have on the environment and also on property values; aside from anything else, I didn’t want to impose on my neighbours”.
He said in the event of a fire the wind turbines could also hamper aerial firefighting efforts, given they were 132 metres and in some case 150 metres tall.
Developers had argued wind farms offered better road access on to properties which could help with firefighting efforts, but Mr Price-Jones said these farms were situated on ridges, which was the “worst place you would want to be in a fire”.
“These turbines also pose problems for weed control and super spreading from the air.
“I have also complained about road usage by heavy vehicles. There were thousands of heavy vehicles a month on roads that weren’t adequate.”
The fact many of the turbines had shifted locations, in some cases moving closer to other dwellings, had added to the severity of the problem, he said.
He said the wind farm had also contributed to a decline in property values.
Mr Price-Jones estimates his property’s value would have diminished by $300,000 to $400,000.
Speaking hypothetically, he said “we could sell the property for a bargain basement price to our neighbours who would use it for grazing, but not to someone else”.
Also, the option to subdivide and sell as lifestyle farming blocks had been taken away, which contributed to a decline in the value of the property.
“The attractiveness of the landscape has been severely compromised by the turbines.”
In his role as president of the NSW Landscape Guar-dians, Mr Price-Jones said he had encountered the problem of wind turbines beyond Gullen Range, with a large concentration of farms in and around the Crookwell district.
According to the Depart-ment of Planning, an eight- turbine farm is operating at Crookwell, another 46-turbine farm at Crookwell is under construction, a 15-turbine farm at Cullerin Range has been installed, as has a 31-turbine farm at Gunning.
A 61 turbine farm at Taralga is also under construction.
Applications have been received for another 35-turbine farm at Crookwell, a 40- turbine farm at Biala, and an 80-turbine farm at Collector.
“It will soon be impossible to stand on any elevated site in the Southern Tablelands and not see wind farms,” Mr Price-Jones said.
He said this was a great detriment to the future of the shire; “the ramifications of wind turbine development are highly significant”.
Upon completion of the project, which had been forecast for May this year, the Gullen Range wind farm would overtake the Capital wind farm near Bungendore (67 turbines) as the largest operating wind farm in the State.
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