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Council raises questions about community consultation in wind farm submission

Boorowa Council has slammed the developers of the proposed Rye Park Windfarm for a lack of consultation in their submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure regarding their Environmental Assessment Exhibition (EA).

In a letter to the department penned by Council’s general manager Anthony McMahon, Council highlighted the applicant’s failure to adequately consult with Council regarding the construction, operation and decommissioning of up to 126 wind turbines at Rye Park.

“Representatives of the applicant have had one meeting with Council’s Mayor and General Manager within the past 12 months as well as a combined meeting with the Mayors and General Managers of Boorowa, Yass Valley and Upper Lachlan Shire Councils,” Mr McMahon said.

“The EA does not address the level of consultation or the detail of what consultation occurred with Council as was a requirement of the director general.

“Council has not received an approach for the applicant to address the full Council or to discuss the proposal with full Council.”

The submission states despite the director general’s requirement that the company undertake a consultation program with relevant stakeholders including

Boorowa Council, there has been only a few preliminary meetings on key matters including roads surrounding the development.

Council also raised significant concerns in relation to decommissioning in its submission.

Although the EA contains a “Decommissioning and Rehabilitation Plan”, Council said it does not provide sufficient detail to determine exactly how the development area will be decommissioned and the impacts during decommissioning and how they will be ameliorated.

“It is anticipated that impacts on roads during decommissioning will be similar to those (granted reduced) during the construction phase of the project. How these impacts are mitigated should be resolved prior to construction,” Mr McMahon said.

“In addition, it is likely that not all materials used for the project will be recyclable and where this excess waste is intended to be disposed of should be resolved prior to construction.

“Council does not yet believe that the applicant has adequately addressed the standard of road works required to ensure a safe and suitable transport route nor has it adequately considered how road impacts will be managed during and following construction. As identified previously, Council also believes the applicant has not had adequate consultation with Council in relation to road impacts.”

The submission referenced Council road-related policies contained in the EA, but claims there was no consultation with Council on these policies, standards and data contained internally.

Council also spotlighted concerns about the administrative burdens noise complaints about the farm could place on Council, even though it is not the appropriate regulatory authority.

The environmental assessment documents may be viewed on the DPI website at http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au. Any person wishing to make a submission must ensure it reaches the DPI by Friday, July 4.