John Thistleton July 27, 2012
Proponents of a $400 million, 68-turbine wind farm at Collector say most of the village residents support the project, which has moved a step closer to approval.
RATCH-Australia is expected to take two years building the region's latest wind farm near the Federal Highway at Collector. It will generate up to 228 megawatts of electricity, or enough energy to power around 80,000 homes annually.
Chief executive Steve Loxton said the 60-day public exhibition period represented the culmination of years of research.
''Our surveys of local Collector residents confirm that there is strong support for renewable energy and we look forward to, indeed encourage, the participation of the community and other stakeholders during the public exhibition period,'' he said.
''We believe our proposal has significant merit, not only through its contribution towards helping meet Australia's renewable energy target, but also through it contribution to the local community and economy through investment, employment and a $200,000 per annum community benefit fund for Collector, which will be established once the wind turbines are operational.''
Friends of Collector, a group of landholders who oppose the project believe wind farm developments are surrounded in secrecy.
But Collector farmer and Pumpkin Festival president Gary Poile said he was all for the project, because the proponents supported the community. ''There's probably some against it. There's a group saying they're friends of Collector, they're not very friendly and most don't live here. There's probably a whole lot of people sitting on the fence on the issue.''
In a statement the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure said RATCH-Australia was required to take account of the draft guidelines in its environmental assessment, including consulting on aviation safety, bushfire and decommissioning issues. NSW Planning says the proponent sought agreement by letter from residents living within two kilometres of the proposed site.
Following public exhibition, the department will assess issues raised in submissions.
The environmental assessment report can be inspected at Poidevins Cafe, Collector, Gunning Library, and Upper Lachlan Shire Council offices in Crookwell and Gunning.
The proposal includes access tracks, local road upgrades, electrical connections between the turbines and a new substation, as well as meteorological masts and a maintenance building.
It is considering turbines ranging from two to 3.4 megawatts. Each turbine will have towers with a maximum height of 90 metres and blades up to 60 metres. (Turbines at the nearby Cullerin Range wind farm sit on 80 metres towers and have 45 metre blades).
Up to 100 construction workers will work on the wind farm. Once established and operating, 10 to 15 permanent jobs will be based at Collector.