Energy company AGL has slashed the number of wind turbines it is applying to build at the proposed Silverton wind farm in far west New South Wales.
The $460 million project, in the Bafrrier Range about 20 kilometres northwest of Broken Hill, has been in the pipeline since 2008.
AGL re-confirmed its commitment early this year.
The company is seeking government approval to modify its plan for the Silverton project to include 172 turbines, more than a hundred fewer than under the previous plan.
“The main change with [the modification] is about making sure the Silverton wind farm can use the latest and most modern wind turbine technology, the next evolution of wind turbines,” project manager Adam Mackett said.
Mr Mackett said fewer turbines would be needed as a result of advances in wind technology.
The turbines would be taller with a greater diameter, while the three turbines closest to Silverton have been removed from the proposal.
The township would be 5.5 kilometres away from the nearest turbine site under the new plan.
“Overall, the assessment when you take the reduction in numbers is considered to be a lesser impact,” Mr Mackett said.
“The turbines are getting a little bit larger … but with a reduction in numbers comes a lesser impact overall on the environment.”
Although the submission to the State Government includes plans for 172 turbines, only about 60 will be built when construction begins.
The main transmission line between Broken Hill and Mildura does not have the capacity to cope with the full number of turbines, but AGL said it may be upgraded by electricity authorities in the future.
Residents get first access to plan
There was frustration from locals at a recent meeting, who told AGL it had not made planning documents properly available to them, and that the State Government had not put them on exhibition in Silverton itself.
AGL said it would give the new plans to residents weeks before they would formally go on public exhibition.
“It’s been good this time that we’ve been able to get our hands on this and start digesting it, it’s a pretty big document by the look of it,” Silverton publican Peter Price said.
“But once again, AGL are being upfront and they are informing us.
“A lot of questions get asked, some are not answered to everyone’s satisfaction, but I’ve always felt that AGL have done their best.”
The company hoped the tender process for construction of the wind farm based on the modified plan would be complete by the first quarter of 2017.
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