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Project put on hold

Tuesday, 17th June, 2014

Wind turbines near Hallet in South Australia. A decision on the proposed Silverton windfarm appears no closer after the project was pushed back again. Wind turbines near Hallet in South Australia. A decision on the proposed Silverton windfarm appears no closer after the project was pushed back again.

By Erica Visser

The proposed $550 million Silverton wind farm could remain up in the air for another two years.

AGL Energy, which is heading the project, put plans on hold last year in anticipation of a federal government review into renewable energy.

It was required to start the development by the middle of this year but yesterday told the BDT the approval lapse date had been extended for another two years.

"AGL Energy Limited's (AGL) proposed Silverton Wind Farm project approval lapse date has been extended to May 24 2016 by the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure," a spokesman said.

"AGL is committed to regularly communicating with the Silverton Community Consultative Committee about a range of topics pertaining to the proposed Silverton Wind Farm."

Meanwhile, the results of the review into the national Renewable Energy Target will soon be known.

The scheme was designed to deliver the equivalent of 20 per cent of Australia's electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

However, there have been fears that the Abbott Government would cut back the scheme or even scrap it.

The review began in February and has been headed by former Caltex chairman and climate change sceptic Dick Warburton.

The government's stance on wind farms was highlighted in the news recently when Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said they looked "utterly offensive."

Silverton Hotel owner, Peter Price, is on the Community Consultative Committee for the project.

The next meeting between the committee and AGL was not due until late October.

Mr Price said that he wouldn't be surprised if the project was scrapped.

"Nothing has happened so far. The way I describe it is it's been a big talkfest," he said yesterday.

Mr Price said that AGL had been in regular contact with the committee and there were still some concerns from residents about the windfarm.

"I'm not against it but we're still working through some issues that we've got," he said.

"One of these was the set back of the towers from Silverton village and road traffic management."

But Mr Price said it was hard to know whether working out the matters would prove fruitless.

"Really it's still in limbo at the moment. I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen.

"A lot of things have gone off the boil lately. There's been a couple of cancellations in South Australian projects."

BH City Councillor Jim Richards said he was doubtful about the project going ahead.

"I think even if you set the environmental aspect aside, that's a big windfall for the region, excuse the pun," Clr Richards said.

"Everyone has been really involved with the process and now it looks like not going ahead.

"Council invested a considerable amount of time into the project as well. It's unfortunate timing.

"Personally, I'm not feeling very optimistic about it and that's a bit of a shame.

"Without the renewable energy targets, a big project like this isn't sustainable."

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