A 98-tower wind farm proposed by Wind Energy Partners near Nundle is facing growing opposition.
The Nundle community is mobilising, having elected an executive committee dubbed the Hills of Gold Preservation Inc to fight the wind farm proposal.
Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group is also against the industrial wind farm, proposed by Wind Energy Partners on the mountain range south east of Nundle.
The groups say the proposal for 98, potentially 220m high wind turbines, on a 20km stretch of mountain range will threaten not only the town’s hard-won tourist appeal but significant geographic features.
Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group media officer John Krsulja, of The DAG Sheep Station, is helping represent the community in its lobby against the proposed wind farm.
DAG Sheep Station is on 70 acres of land near Nundle and was once part of Wombramurra Station.
Today it hosts weddings and conferences and can accommodate large groups.
“Hanging Rock and Nundle have strong existing tourism businesses, jobs, and economic activity attracting more than 100,000 visitors from 30 countries to annual events,” Mr Krsulja said.
These events include weddings and country music concerts, craft festivals and camping, he said.
Establishing a point of difference for regional areas to attract visitors is a process both local government and local committees are heavily invested in, he said, with much of the hard work already done.
“The Hills of Gold are of high scenic value, and we have been told the project will have a high visual impact,” he said.
“Industrial wind farms should not be located in view of people’s homes, businesses, and places of cultural significance.”
Masts to monitor wind have been in place around Nundle for eight years.
Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group Inc chairman Nick Bradford said the community was disappointed with the level of consultation so far.
Some landholders neighbouring the proposed wind farm have still not officially been informed of the project. Mr Bradford said the company had not planned an initial consultation until next month, but that had been pushed forward to last month because of community pressure.
Wind Energy Partners development director Jamie Chivers is unapologetic and says the local community needs to understand the economic benefit the project will bring.
He says the community will benefit from an injection of 272 jobs in the construction phase, jobs that will last from 18 months to two years.
He said there would be 34 ongoing jobs to keep the wind farm operational that could last 35 years.
These jobs may be open to locals, if they have the appropriate skills, although there would be some ongoing unskilled jobs related to the wind farm.
And he said those workers will contribute to the local economy by spending money. Mr Chivers said he hoped construction could begin within a couple of years. He said Wind Energy Partners was a privately owned Australian company not listed on the Australian stock exchange.
Industrial wind farms should not be located in view of people’s homes, businesses, and places of cultural significance.
But Mr Bradford said the community had heard the pros and cons of the project and decided there were more disadvantages than advantages.
“The disadvantages included environmental threats to the Peel, Hunter and Barnard water catchments, biodiversity, erosion, bushfire control, aviation, visual amenity, noise, property values and demand, social cohesion, existing population, tourism businesses, and jobs.”
Megan Trousdale, a member of both Nundle groups opposing the project, said wind generation subsidised by a government rushing to renewables “is a fashion and our community shouldn’t be a sacrifice to that fashion”.