The $200 million Flyers Creek wind farm has been approved by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission. It is one of the state’s largest since the O’Farrell government issued draft guidelines for the industry in December 2011.
The commission ignored the guidelines’ provision that turbines should not be located within two kilometres of homes in its approval for the 42-turbine project planned for Blayney, south of Orange.
“The Commission notes that NSW has not finalised its draft guidelines from 2011 and understands that the draft did not prohibit turbines being constructed within two kilometres of a dwelling,” the PAC said. “Consequently the Commission has considered the impacts of turbines on merit.”
“The Commission is satisfied that noise levels should not cause significant annoyance or sleep disturbance at any non-associated residents and accepts the Planning and Infrastructure assessment, that no adverse health impacts are expected,” it said.
A spokesman for developer Infigen Energy welcomed the decision, adding that the two-kilometre setback rule was “completely arbitrary”. The project’s future, though, hinges on the outcome of the federal government’s review of the renewable energy target, due for completion by mid-year.
A significant reduction in the target will see “very few’’ wind farms proceeding, the spokesman said. If it proceeds, the wind farm – which will power about 50,000 homes – will take two or three years to build, he said.
NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said the federal and state governments had a chance to back their words on reducing investment obstacles by actions.
“They should be cutting the red tape and getting out of the way of investments and jobs,” Mr Buckingham said.
The National Health and Medical Research Council last month released a draft review into wind farms and human health that found no conclusive evidence of impacts from noise, shadow flicker and electromagnetic radiation. Turbine noise was also unlikely to be heard from distances as short as 500 metres.
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