CANDIDATES in the state race for the seat of Tamworth have weighed in on the controversial $600-million 98-turbine Nundle wind farm.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Jeff Bacon said he was firmly against the development, siting potential impacts to the region's water system, and backs calls for a hydrological study.
“The site is like a sponge for water that releases into three river systems," he said.
“This is a unique site that if damaged could have a detrimental effect on Tamworth’s water supply, not to mention the two other river systems connected.”
He called on Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson "make his position clear to the residents".
“Locals have a signed petition stating they are against the farm but still no word from Mr Anderson on where he stands,” said Mr Bacon.
However, Mr Anderson said there was a long way to go in the project, and it was too early to make a call one way or another.
The company behind the proposal, Wind Energy Partners, is aiming to reach the next stage of the planning process by early 2020.
"We need the process to take place in terms of answering some of those key issues," Mr Anderson said
"I've met with the concerned residents of Nundle, and with those who think it's a great idea. I want to make sure it's the right project in the right environment.
"We'll wait and see how the company answers those key questions. It's difficult to make a determination so early in the process."
Independent Mark Rodda said he was supported renewable energy projects in general, however echoed Mr Anderson's comments.
"Keep in mind that none of the state candidate or the eventual MP have any control over the Independent Planning Commission decision when it comes before them," he said.
Having met with "plenty of people on both sides", Cr Rodda said he could see it was "clearly a vexing issue".
"I can understand the concerns people have regarding the visual impact, it certainly is a very pretty area," he said.
"Having said that, I still have the image in my mind of when I went to Germany in 2000, and they had windmills across huge expanses of farm land area. I personally don't have an issue with the aesthetic appeal, but I can understand those who do."
Stephen Mears said he'd made arrangements to speak to people on both sides of the debate.
"Ultimately it's got to stack up and if the people don't want it, the community has to be considered," he said.
"It boils down to listening to the community. That's what my whole campaign has been about."
Greens candidate Robin Gunning said she was all for the project. ''We need all the renewable energy that we can get," she said.
"I know there are some fears in the Nundle community, and that is understandable, but there is no evidence is going to effect birds and I doubt it will impact the water."
Animal Justice Party candidate Emma Hall was asked for a comment, none has yet been offered.
This article first appeared in the Northern Daily Leader.