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Gullen Range Wind Farm rejected by planning panel

Opponents of a wind farm development near Crookwell have welcomed a planning panel’s decision to have the turbines moved, saying it will send a message to future developers.

The project was initially approved by the New South Wales Planning Department in 2009

The original proposal was for up to 84 turbines but the then Planning Minister Kristina Keneally deleted 11 turbines due to potential impacts on aviation safety at Crookwell aerodrome.

The matter went to the Land and Environment Court where the Minister’s decision was upheld.

Construction on the Gullen Range Wind Farm began in late 2013, but the department became aware that 69 of the 73 turbines were not being built in approved locations.

Some of the turbines were less than 50m away from their approved location and others were up to 187 metres away.

Gullen Range applied to retrospectively modify their application which would allow the turbines to stay where they were currently built.

But the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) rejected the application.

The Commission said the noise, health, and visual effects from the turbines have negatively impacted residents in the area.

“The application is inconsistent with the intent and spirit of the Draft NSW Planning Guidelines on wind farms,” said the PAC’s report.

Nearby landholder, Humphrey Price Jones, said the turbines have had a drastic impact on the community.

“The PAC have to be commended on taking account of the impact that these turbines have had on the landscape, the living conditions, rural amenities generally on the area,” he said.

“It has changed this part of the top of the Great Dividing Range into a vast industrial estate.”

The majority of the 35 people that spoke at the PAC’s public hearing in September, signalled they were opposed to the project.

Crookwell Farmer, John Formby, said the decision will set a precedent for future developers.

“Every developer from now on is going to have to be extremely careful to put developments exactly where they said they were going to put them,” he said.