Plans for a wind farm on the New South Wales central tablelands have been given the green light despite vocal opposition from nearby residents.
The Planning Assessment Commission has approved the Crudine Ridge Wind Farm, which involves building up to 77 turbines 160 metres high south of Mudgee.
The Department of Planning received 120 submissions, many of them raising concerns about traffic, safety and noise issues.
Several residents told a commission hearing at Pyramul in February that the project had caused deep divisions within the community.
The commission said while the wind farm would create some noise, it was confident the conditions being imposed on the project would allay concerns.
The Mid-Western Regional Council had been calling for local roads to be upgraded, and said it was pleased that had been included in the conditions of consent.
Council general manager Brad Cam said while he acknowledged the project had divided the community, it would provide an economic boost.
“I’m pleased, with the downturn in the mining area, at least there is some opportunity for construction over the period,” Mr Cam said.
“At least there is employment for that and there is ongoing employment with the operations of the turbines.”
Sheep-breeding family ‘gutted’ by decision
Sallys Flat farmer Andrew Hundy said he was disappointed by the announcement the development had been approved.
“Frankly, I’m gutted,” Mr Hundy said.
“I thought there was a chance it would be rejected, and I’m not very happy with this decision.”
Mr Hundy’s family has been opposed to the development from the outset.
“My parents were offered two turbines for a total of $20,000 a year. We declined that because we found how it was going to affect us,” he said.
Mr Hundy said the impact on his family would be considerable.
“The towers will be around two and a half kilometres from our house; we will have full visual height of 163 metres of some towers and we’ll see sections of up to 30,” Mr Hundy said.
“In the words of the developer, it will impact us as far as noise is concerned.
“They are allowed to have up to five decibels above the background noise. That makes it the dominant noise in our landscape.”
‘Biggest thing that’s happened in my lifetime’: farmer
Brendan Cole lives near Sallys Flat and is set to host up to seven turbines.
Mr Cole said the wind farm would present an opportunity to turn the region’s fortunes around.
“This is the biggest thing that’s happened in the area in my lifetime, and it will create some significant employment,” Mr Cole said.
“There’s a community fund that will create some big improvements in some of the local communities between Bathurst and Mudgee.”
Coal mining plays a major role in the Mudgee region’s economy, but Mr Cole said the Crudine Ridge project would be a catalyst for more renewable energy developments.
He said while he was aware of concerns about visual and noise impacts, the majority of the community would welcome the wind farm.
“I think it’s a pretty popular decision. There certainly is some opposition from nearby landowners,” Mr Cole said.
“I think this enterprise will certainly create some employment in the area.
“It’ll be a first for the area because there’s no other wind farms nearby, but I believe it’ll be a sign of things to come.
“I think it’s just a way of the future.”
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