Palerang Councillors have been taken by surprise by press reports of a massive new wind farm proposal for the north-eastern escarpment of the Lake George Basin. It extends from Lake Bathurst and five kilometres from Tarago, through Boro and Mt Fairy and across the Kings Highway near the Goulburn Rd to the Mulloon area.
The proposed Jupiter Wind Farm would consist of 100 turbines, taller with bigger blades than the current ones in the area, transmission lines and an electricity substation as well as other infrastructure, according to a company document filed with the NSW Department of Infrastructure and Planning. The document asks for state directions for an environmental impact statement. Some 350 MW of electricity would be generated.
The document notes that the wind farm proposal is in line with the NSW government’s objective to have a 20 percent mix of renewable energy sources by 2020 under the renewable energy (RET) scheme (which is looking shakier under the current federal government).
Mayor Pete Harrison said Council staff had a very preliminary meeting with the developers – Sydney-based EPYC Pty Ltd – late last year, but no formal approach has yet been made here. Locals have known of the company’s wind monitoring towers in the area for two years, including on the property of a former Councillor.
The company says it is attracted to this area by the cleared paddocks, easy access, closeness to major roads and gentle topography that makes construction easier. Jobs and income for the area are mentioned. The project, with a capital investment of some $400 million will be assessed as a State Significant Development, meaning that all the decisions are made at the state level.
As the Bulletin was preparing this article, an email came in from Boro landholder Melanie Hayes who wrote that some large neighbouring landholders (25 in all according to EPYC’s document) have been in consultation with the company to host turbines. Hayes said there may possibly be 19 turbines on neighbouring properties.
She added, “this process has been completed without all adjoining landowners being aware of the proposal, and for those who will be affected, e.g. non-direct adjoining landowners.
“In our personal case, as direct adjoining landowners, there is a proposal of some 20 wind turbines to be placed on land directly adjoining our property. We were not advised of this, we were not consulted by the landowners or by EPYC Pty Ltd. We were not made aware of the proposal until a neighbour found the application on the NSW Planning website.”
Councillor Peter Marshall said the company has reportedly made attempts to contact neighbouring landholders, but so far the community consultation has not taken off. “The company doesn’t do itself any favours by mismanaging consultation,” he said.
Benefits to hosting landholders can be substantial and a welcome addition to farm income. A common understanding is that the industry offers up to $10,000 annually per turbine. EPYC is an Australian/Spanish joint venture utilising Spanish engineering know-how with large-scale wind technology.
Disclaimer: As a supporter of renewable energy The Bulletin is not against wind farms. However, appropriate location and wider community consultation and involvement/partnership are issues that should be addressed.
–– Maria Taylor