A CONTROVERSIAL wind farm looks set for approval in the Kangiara, in the Yass Valley Shire as residents take their protest to the Planning Assessment Commission on March 22.
The Department of Planning and Environment has recommended it be approved, although scaled back.
Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey is circumspect when discussing wind-driven power generation.
“Wind farms divide communities and even families,” she said.
Currently there are 741 turbines proposed within an 80-kilometre radius of Rye Park, 268 already operating.
But the Bango Wind Farm’s turbines will be the largest and with that comes logistical challenges for construction and local government.
Roads don’t traditionally traverse areas where turbines can pick up optimal winds and the towers are heavy, meaning roads either must be built, or in some cases reinforced.
Mrs Abbey said roads would be a focal point for council, along with the community benefit fund, used locally to spread the benefits of hosting such instrastructure.
The company’s approach annoys the Winterfloods, owners of “Laverstock”, overlooking the project. The fact the company had been negotiating with local landholders for two years before they had heard of it’s intentions angered them.
Neighbours had already signed deals to host turbines before the Winterfloods knew about the project.
Hilltops Mayor Brian Ingram, a former Young Shire Councillor before forced state government amalgamations created Hilltops Council, had not really had any experience with wind farms until elected mayor of the new entity in September last year.
But since the Bango wind farm crosses into Hilltops, Mr Ingram is learning fast many people view the developments differently.
Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said two major factors were driving projects onto the Southern Tablelands.
“Basically wind resources are very good in the region and there is a lot of existing coal coming out of the supply system in NSW,” he said.
“That drives new generation and wind is the cheapest option.”
Unlike the Jupiter wind farm proposal, the Department of Planning seems to favour the Bango development.
On February 27, DPE referred Bango to the independent Planning Assessment Commission for a final decision, suggesting scaled-back plans could be approved.
DPE Resource and energy assessments director Mike Young said the project’s merits had been thoroughly assessed.
“During the assessment process, CWP Renewables removed 47 turbines from the original 122-turbine plan, to reduce the impacts on the local community and the environment.”