May 20, 2022

‘Not in the public interest’: Tamworth Regional Council reaffirms its opposition to Nundle wind farm project

By Caitlin Reid | The Northern Daily Leader | May 20 2022 |

Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) has strongly reaffirmed its opposition to the proposed Nundle wind farm, stating the development is “not in the public interest”.

The council has drafted a letter in response to a submissions report prepared by proponents ENGIE, claiming the state-significant Hills of Gold Wind Farm “overwhelming negative impact”.

“Whilst TRC’s Blueprint 100 vision and the New England North West Regional Plan acknowledge that renewable energy projects will be supported, both documents emphasise that this is subject to the development being situated in appropriate locations,” director of liveable communities Gina Vereker Director stated.

“The overall cost to the broader Tamworth region from an environmental, financial and social perspective outweighs the potential renewable energy benefits.”

Site suitability, heritage, biodiversity and visual impacts, and the risk of bush fires are all listed as concerns held by the council.

The proponent has committed to establishing a Community Enhancement Fund to benefit residents in Hanging Rock and Nundle if the project goes ahead, contributing $3000 per wind turbine, per year.

It’s also proposed a $10,000 administration allocation to council for the first year, and $5000 in following years, as well as a $100,000 pre-operation fund for local projects.

This could amount to council pocketing $165,000 a year from ENGIE to put back into community projects.

The letter confirms TRC will seek to enter the voluntary planning agreement, requesting further consultation to ensure the most appropriate funding.

Council’s position on the project has been no secret, having been a vocal critic, it lodged a submission objecting to the proposal in February 2021.

ENGIE announced it had purchased the project in early November 2020.

The company hopes to have the wind farm under construction by late 2022, with the first watt of power to be generated in 2024.

If approved, the company will build as many as 70 turbines on the Hills of Gold about five kilometres south of Hanging Rock, near Nundle, producing as much as 420 megawatts of battery-firmed clean power, which could power up to 185,000 homes.

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