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Gurrundah residents anger over access to Biala Wind Farm information

Gurrundah residents want more details on Biala Wind Farm before signing a neighbour agreement with the proponent, BJCE Australia.

David Bugeja has a poultry farm with sheds within 2km of a turbine (the main entrance is closer) and is worried about noise – amplitude modulation or rumbling from a turbine; construction and decommissioning – and potential consequences for his business.

The site entrance is directly next to the poultry sheds and he says the construction phase startling the birds is another worry. During construction, an estimated 14,774 vehicles will enter the site, about 220 per day. About one in four trucks will be heavy/over-size, says the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) DA.

Mr Bugeja has asked for a sound impact statement. He has registered interest in the voluntary neighbour agreement program, but yet to receive terms and conditions.

The DPE's assessment predicts construction noise will fall below 55 decibels, consistent with the noise of light traffic, and blasts to be well below the relevant annoyance criteria.

BJCE Australia says the DPE's assessment process is rigorous and they are committed to ensuring full compliance with the consent. The proponent refuted claims that Mr Bugeja requested a sound impact statement during discussions of neighbour agreements, but deputy general manager Derek Powell said they would "follow up with this neighbour in case there has been any misunderstanding".

"We have consulted with the stakeholder several times and they have always expressed concern regarding noise from Biala Wind Farm and their poultry business," Mr Powell said.

"We will frequently contact the stakeholder during construction to check that our delivery trucks are not disrupting their operations. If they are, BJCE Australia will discuss measures to help, such as ensuring air brakes are not used."

In 2018, the independent wind farm commissioner Andrew Dyer's report indicated there were still concerns from people about turbines. The numbers revealed most complaints in 2018 were about proposed wind farms. There were 12 complaints in NSW.

Ken and Jennifer Hewitt say officials from former and current proponents Newtricity and BJCE Australia are yet to visit the site.

The Hewitts say an unoccupied dwelling on their property within 800 metres of the nearest turbine warrants an impact study. The residential structure is part of their superannuation plan, they say.

BJCE Australia said the structure was "essentially an issue between the neighbour and the DPE, but we'll assist the DPE if requested."

The DPE imposed requirements mainly for occupied residences, a spokesperson said. The residence had to exist at the consent date, or be subject to a development consent or undetermined DA.

Property owners with a dwelling within three kilometres of a turbine were offered between $2500 to $5000 per year, and those without an existing dwelling $1500 per year, the DPE said.

The Gazette requested additional information from DPE regarding the dwelling in question.

Meantime, the proponent will mitigate stock movement risks with the Hewitts, crossing a road to be used during the wind farm's construction. The consent conditions include flashing stock movement signs, but these will be activated by off-site personnel.