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Wind farm veto plan

Thursday, 29th December, 2011

By Erica Visser

 Newly proposed rules for NSW wind farms might jeopardise an approved windmill project for Silverton. 

The NSW Government has released for discussion what have been called the toughest wind farm restrictions in the world. 

The restrictions allow residents within 2km of a proposed wind farm site to veto the project.

NSW Planning and Infrastructure Minister, Brad Hazzard, said that this meant that “100 per cent of neighbours have to be happy” with the project.

If any residents object, the proposal must then go before an independent regional panel.

Mr Hazzard said that the restrictions were put in place to find a balance between residents’ rights and the push for renewable energy.

Silverton resident Helen Murray said she was happy about the restrictions and that given the opportunity she would veto the wind farm project.

“I just don’t want it here. I’m not against renewable energy as such but I don’t think this is a suitable site,” Mrs Murray said. 

“Silverton will not survive this. It is a tourism town and there’s only one road to and from town and they want turbine components coming out here. The traffic backlog would ruin this town.

“Then there’s the environmental considerations. These hills see barely a vehicle each day then all of a sudden you’re going to have these huge trucks trains.

“They want to take the sand out of our creeks...and use our water to make concrete. It’s just ridiculous. They want to build it at any cost.”

Mrs Murray said that other residents, along with stakeholders in the BH film studio, were concerned about how the wind farm would affect the scenery.

“The hills is such a beautiful area and they’re untouched,” she said.

“It’s a hypocritical outlook to say renewable energy, no carbon footprint, because they’re going to blast into the hills. It’ll destroy them.”

Mrs Murray said that “very strict” guidelines were necessary for a development which she believes should be situated in parts of the country with no population.

The details of the wind farm are still not clear. More than 200 sites have been approved but it is not known if Epuron, the proponent, will go through with the project or sell it off.

Mrs Murray said that Epuron had given her conflicting information about how close the windmills would be to her home.

“One minute they told us we’d be 1.5 kilometres from the nearest turbine, then they told us 2km,” she said.

Renewable energy company AGL, which is interested in the project, told Silverton residents that the powerlines could not handle Epuron’s proposed 598 turbines, she said.

AGL has instead proposed a smaller version of the project although it has not made a decision over whether to take it on.

“AGL will work through the guidelines and intends to make a detailed submission next year. At this time, we hold no stake in Silverton and cannot comment on that project,” a spokesman for the company said.

The NSW Opposition said that a 2km exclusion zone would cost the state $3 billion in investment. 


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