September 23, 2018

Nundle wind farm delayed by extra visual and noise studies

Jamison Murphy | The Northern Daily Leader | September 21 2018 |

The government is yet to receive any paper work from the developer of the $600m Nundle wind farm, despite the company declaring it was ready to do so six months ago.

Wind Energy Partners say the delay is the result of extra studies on the project’s visual and noise impacts, which have been undertaken in response to community concerns.

Meanwhile, the Hills of Gold Preservation group met in Nundle on Thursday night, to highlight a number of concerns regarding the 98-turbine project.

Wind Energy Partners spokesman Jamie Chivers said the company planned to take the first official step with the NSW government “within the next month, or hopefully before then”.

While the additional studies were finalised, it was “really hard to summarise them in a few words”.

“We’re consulting some of the closer landowners about the results and they’ll be made publicly available soon,” Mr Chivers said.

“The visual study has been completed to comply with the NSW Wind Guidelines, and it’s taken in to consideration all those known dwellings within a 3-kilometre and 4.4-kilometre, as per the guidelines.

“It’s identified certain areas of the wind farm that are more visible from the community and those dwellings that may have the potential to see turbines.”

A number of Nundle businesses have raised concerns that the “high visual impact” of the development would drive away the 100,000 tourists that visit the town every year.

In a letter to The Leader, the Hills of Gold Preservation group outlined a list of concerns, ranging from environmental issues such as erosion and sediment run off, to safety issues such as aerial fire fighting and more heavy vehicles on local roads.

“The Wind Energy Partners’ proposal is not a choice between coal or wind-powered energy,” the group said.

“[We] support renewables in appropriate locations, but do not believe Hanging Rock is an appropriate location for wind turbines.”

Despite the delay, Mr Chivers was happy with how the project was progressing.

“This very early part of the project is to develop its scope, it’s not designed to provided detailed answers – that’ll happen in the next step of the process,” he said.

Hills of Gold Preservation letter

Hills of Gold Preservation Inc (HOGPI) will host a public meeting at 6pm, Thursday, September 20, 2018 at Nundle Memorial Hall to present members’ concerns regarding wind farms and the potential implications for a proposal for up to 98 wind turbines on 20km of the Great Dividing Range from Hanging Rock to Timor.

HOGPI is a resident and landholder group established in April to oppose Wind Energy Partners Pty Ltd’s wind turbines proposal. The group has more than 100 members and its petition indicates it is supported by the majority of the local community.

HOGPI activities aim to protect the rural character of Nundle, Hanging Rock, Head of Peel, Crawney and Timor, the heritage and nature of the area, night sky (against aviation lighting on turbines), and wellbeing of the community.

For the past five months members have researched the wind energy industry, its impacts on communities, the environment, property values, landscape, agribusiness, and tourism.

Members have visited wind farms near Glen Innes, Wellington, and Bungendore.

HOGPI members support renewables in appropriate locations, but do not believe Hanging Rock is an appropriate location for wind turbines.

The Wind Energy Partners Pty Ltd’s proposal is not a choice between coal or wind powered energy.

We acknowledge the role of the existing native forest and groundcover producing water vapour and helping cool the atmosphere, storing carbon and water in the soil, reducing erosion, contributing to soil and spring/creek/river health of three catchments, increasing biodiversity, and providing animal habitat, versus a proposed wind farm, mining coal for components, clearing trees for road widening and transport of components, construction of foundations, cabling, transmission lines, substation, and concrete plant, consumption of electricity, consumption of fossil fuels in transporting imported components, commuting contractors, and operating construction equipment.

The National Wind Farm Commissioner’s 2017 report says “Meeting the 2020 goals of the Australian Renewable Energy Target scheme would require approximately only one in three…prospective wind farm projects…to go ahead.”

The proposed project area is near the rare convergence of the headwaters of three river systems, the Namoi (Peel River), Manning (Ben Halls Creek and Barnard Rivers) and Hunter (Pages Creek).

HOGPI members are concerned about the potential impact of up to 98 concrete and steel foundations set below ground level in what is essentially a big water-holding sponge, feeding springs, creeks and rivers (Tamworth’s water supply), even in times of severe drought.

Members are also concerned about the potential implications of future vegetation clearing, construction, road building and maintenance, and operational activities increasing erosion and land slips in a high rainfall location, with an increase in the sediment runoff and erosion flowing into the Peel River and Chaffey Dam.

The proposal is adjacent to Ben Hall’s Gap Nature Reserve, considered a rare or unique eco system and home to many protected species, and has the potential to impact on Crawney Pass National Park, which includes three species of conservation significance and nine threatened animal species recorded within 2km of the park.

Other areas of concern include potential for reduced enjoyment of homes and tourism facilities by residents and visitors, dramatic increase in light and heavy vehicles impacting on road safety and ease of movement, visual impact, community health, aerial fire fighting, agricultural aviation, and property devaluation.

HOGPI members look forward to sharing their concerns and promoting further discussion and questions within the community.

Megan Trousdale, Hills of Gold Preservation Inc

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