The Government Commission investigating the application by Gullen Wind Farm developers for a modification of the turbine sites will sit at Crookwell on Friday, September 5, at Crookwell.
The hearing will commence at 9.30 a.m. at the Crookwell Services Club.
The Commission (Mr. Garry Payne AM in the chair, with Mr. Richard Thorp) was appointed by the State Planning Department following complaints that the developers had placed a large number of the turbines away from the original approved sites
Upper Lachlan Council has been advised that the Crookwell sitting has been arranged because of the level of public interest in the matter.
Council has made a submission to the Commission expressing its concern at the relocation of the turbines.
The Environmental Assessment Report on the problem, comprising 59 closely typed pagers, has been forwarded to Council.
It reveals the wind farm owners have sought retrospective approval to modify the final location of 69 of the 73 turbines.
The assessment notes: “Most of the wind turbines (68%) have moved less than 50 metres from the approved location; however, 19% have moved between 50 to 100 metres, and 13% have moved to a distance greater than 100 metres, with the maximum distance being 187 metres from the original approved location.”
The Department’s assessment of visual impacts focused on evaluating whether the different locations had resulted in a higher level of impact.
Department officers visited the wind farm area on two occasions to compare the actual view with the original photo-montages used in the planning approval.
There are 45 non-associated residences with 2 kms of the wind farm.
The Department’s assessment concluded that in most instances the change in visual impact was not discernible.
However, in the case of two turbines, moved 167m and 178m from approved locations, have caused greater visual impacts.
THE Department has recommended that in the first instance (a lifestyle holding) the owners should be provided the opportunity to be acquired by the wind farm, or ask that the turbine be relocated to its original site.
With respect to the second site, the recommendation is that it be relocated to its original approved site 178m away.
A review by the Department’s own noise expert and an independent expert concluded that the relocation of the turbines will result in insignificant change in the turbine noise.
The Department has concluded that subject to conditions the modifications can be supported.
Conditions included those listed above, plus additional landscaping to ensure visual impacts of the substation be minimised, that the Compensatory Habitat Package be revised and the offset area increased to account for biodiversity loss, and that the approval be updated to reflect current practice with respect to noise, tonality, decommissioning and community consultation aspects.
Cr. Malcolm Barlow claimed that the visual impact assessment had been made by two members of the Department “with no training and no experience.”
He added that he regarded that original approvals as “a disgrace” in relation to the lay-back distances to non-host residences and visual impacts.
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