Doubt has been cast on a controversial wind farm planned for southern New South Wales, with the developer warning conditions being proposed on the project could jeopardise its viability and prevent more than $100 million being spent locally.
The Rye Park Wind Farm, east of Boorowa, has been in the pipeline for several years.
The Department of Planning and Environment received 240 submissions on the project.
The department has now recommended the project for approval, but with 68 stringent conditions to address concerns about visual impact, community contributions, biodiversity and roads.
The plans involved building 109 turbines straddling the Yass, Hilltops and Upper Lachlan council areas, but the department wants the number reduced to 84.
In its assessment report, it found there was strong community opposition to the project from local landowners and interest groups.
But the department said removing up to 25 turbines would minimise the potential impacts on surrounding residential areas, including the village of Rye Park.
A submission from the Rye Park Action Group included comments from an online petition that gained more than 200 signatures, which aired concerns about the adverse impact the turbines would have on the village.
Visual impact on properties
The department report also found that while another 14 turbines would have a high visual impact on two other properties, removing these from the plan could affect the project’s viability.
It has instead suggested the two landowners be granted acquisition rights, which would ensure they were compensated if they chose to sell their property as a result of the project.
But company Tilt Renewables said even removing 25 turbines from the plans would make it unviable.
Spokesman Rontheo Van Zyl said the business had already significantly cut the size of the project – the original number of 126 turbines was reduced to 109 in 2014.
“It will severely jeopardise the viability of the project, and in that jeopardising the significant economic benefit to the local community, which will be in the order of $2 million direct injection per year in the region,” Mr Van Zyl said.
“And we estimate [there would be] up to $100 million of local services injected in the region during construction.”
While Mr Van Zyl said he would closely consider the report’s recommendations, it was possible the project would not be able to go ahead under the conditions.
But he said the company would continue to work with stakeholders and the Planning Assessment Commission, which is now considering the proposal.
A public hearing is expected to be held in coming months.
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