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Downsized NSW wind farm rejected, again, by state planning department

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A troubled wind farm project proposed for the New South Wales Southern Tablelands has again been rejected by the state government’s Department of Planning and Environment, nearly three years after being sent back to the drawing board.

The Jupiter Wind Farm, proposed for development south-east of Tarago by Australian-Spanish joint venture EPYC, was this week rejected by the department as “fundamentally unsuitable” to the site and surrounds – despite being downsized by almost half, to 54 turbines.

It will now go to the Planning Assessment Commission for the final determination, but the department has recommended approval of the project should be refused.

Director of Resource and Energy Assessments Mike Young said the department “considered the application on its merits, but found it would have unacceptable visual impacts on almost half of the 110 homes located near the project.

“The proposal is inconsistent with local planning controls, which classify a third of the proposed site as an environmental management zone,” Young said.

The department also said it received 400 objections from the local community and interest groups during the exhibition period.

Back in October 2015, the project was rejected for the first time by the Department, for failing to adequately assess the visual and noise impacts of the turbines, or to properly consult with local residents.

The wind farm was originally designed with a capacity of 350MW, or 100 turbines, to be sited on a 12,000 hectare stretch of agricultural land, hosted by 25 different landholders.

But the proposal met with resistance from neighbouring farmers and residents, some of who formed a group – Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines – and led public protests against its development.

As we reported at the time, that group in the past had political support from NSW Liberal MP, Pru Goward, who was active in the anti-wind movement in the NSW-ACT region, particularly when she was minister for health.

“Increasingly, I am on the view that there is some validity on the health effects,” she told a community meeting in 2015. “There are a number of people with health problems … it is clearly not psychosomatic.

“They impact upon the landscape and have an immediate effect upon land value… I am with this community and plan on putting pressure on the state government.”

For Jupiter Wind Farm, that mix of community and political pressure seems to have been the project’s undoing.

But notably, EPYC has been criticised, even from within its own wind industry ranks, for its part in failing to engage properly with the locals.

“There are plenty of examples Australia-wide of wind power projects having long-lasting and beneficial impacts for local communities – both financially and socially,” said Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator, Andrew Bray.

“However, it is critical that these projects have effective and transparent community engagement from the start to ensure the project delivers good outcomes for everyone,” he told the Goulburn Post.

“In this instance, that crucial engagement did not happen and this threatened to negatively affect community views not just on this project, but on wind power generally.

“We were concerned about this so we felt it was important to speak out in support of the community and object to the project.”  

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  • George Darroch

    The Alliance are right. It’s important to do engagement first and win support. Otherwise a small group can end up mobilising and suddenly ordinary people don’t have the inclination to go against that small angry mob.

    • Andy Saunders

      Generally the incidence of wind-farm health effects is inversely correlated with receiving rent from wind farms… unfortunately.

    • neroden

      We did this in Ithaca and yet a very tiny wind turbine plan (it was, I think, 4 turbines) got killed by a completely hysterical group of idiots. They managed to delay it long enough to damage the financing.

  • Ray Miller

    SA is 100% RE at present (28th Feb midday-2PM) and has the lowest NEM price $66.70 by about $10/MWh compared with Victoria and NSW. So I suppose if the NSW locals want expense energy they know what to do, exactly what they are doing now.

    • Rod

      I’m afraid with the direction to have some spinning gas at all times it will be a while before SA gets to 100% This at 3:30pm
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/41e2914ecc204023b5f925abd1a343a1798521b389408b390592138403d0ba1a.png
      Although, looking at the OPENnem site it does show 100% covering SA demand and the gas being exported. So maybe you are correct. 😉

    • Joe

      …if this was a Coalmine proposal…Approved!

      • MaxG

        Yes, why I said the stupid are dangerous. These clowns not only stifle innovation, but hard-core prevent it.

  • Sir Pete o Possums Reek

    Imposing this on any community is well stupid.

    Transparency, respect, engagement => Social Licence
    Get that right and communities will _help_ you
    even make your case for you.

    Continue to honestly service that agreement
    and you just try to take away their wind farm.

    FWIW I know the area (reasonably) , used to live quite close by.
    (in less windy environs.. (Near Nerriga))
    It may be better parking the idea for a couple of years and starting again.

  • MaxG

    I hope they pack it in and go build their system in another state!

    • George Darroch

      Plenty of good sites left in NSW.

      • MaxG

        This may well be, however I am not across the details, but assume political motivation; as such, if I were a company, I would have a look where my plans fit in another state, and happily go there than dealing with these clowns. It is the second rejection; I would not count to three. Having dealt with developments I have an idea what I am talking about.

  • Jon

    This is doing ng a dis-service to the whole wind industry not only this project and company, very poor form.

  • john

    I note a statement from that time.
    “There are a number of people with health problems … it is clearly not psychosomatic.
    What on earthy does that mean?
    The persons have psychiatric problems.
    Which in simple terms means they are unhinged of even more simple terms have a problem.
    I am sorry but honestly what it means they have a perceived effect that is not sustainable on any investigation of their situation.
    Time over time the people who say they have some kind of problem with wind farms are either not being paid or are frankly against the idea of any kind of RE.

    • neroden

      It’s psychosomatic. There have been far too many studies on this. Wind turbines cause less noise, in *every* frequency band, than roads, and nearly all the people who are claiming that they’re causing illnesses have roads next to their houses. (I’ll give a pass to the ones who don’t have roads, maybe they do have real problems.)

  • onesecond

    There are tons of studies, there are no negative health effects from wind farms, whatever Goward says or feels. As for the noise, you can hardly hear them even when you are standing beneath a wind turbine at normal wind speeds. And the visual impact is a positive one as wind turbines bring joy to well-informed people as they displace much more detrimental forms of electricity production.

    • Joe

      In the land of Windmills, The Netherlands, the home of Wind Turbines, Denmark, they had them for eons, it should be dead easy to find ‘brain damaged’ victims.

      • onesecond

        The notion of windmills causing somehow brain damage is beyond ridiculous unless you bang your head against one.

        • Joe

          …and yet our top man at SA Best was intrumental in setting up The Wind Commission some two plus years ago to seek out ‘victims’. The ‘WC’ dude needs to look a bit harder or go and have a little chat to Nitwit Xylophone.

          • onesecond

            Crazy is what crazy does.

  • neroden

    What is wrong with NSW?

    It’s looking like SA, Tassie, WA, the NT, Queensland, and even Victoria will have sound, stable, all-renewable grids while NSW’s grid collapses under the weight of obsolete coal plants.

    • Carl Raymond S

      Oh, but we have found millions for new sporting stadia! Bread and circuses (footy).

      • Joe

        Milllions?…It is BILLIONS…$2.5billions at the moment….who knows the eventual cost of it all. Parramatta Stadium and the Parramatta Public Swimming Baths already in knockdown mode. But no new Public Swimming Baths is on the drawing board. Sydney Olympic Stadium. less than 20 years old, is going under the bulldozers. The Sydney Sports Stadium is only a little older but apparently it is some some of health and safety deathtrap but that hasn’t stopped sports of all kinds still using the facility.Plenty of our / taxpayer hard earned to fill the pockets of the elites.

        • Carl Raymond S

          Yeah, I’m pretty certain Gladys Berejiklian will be shown the exit door to parliament thanks to the stadia debacle. People hate waste, especially when managing tight budgets themselves.

  • Nathan Rogers

    What the hell to we care about people’s view of the land for, you don’t own the view from your house.

  • Gabi Gerrie

    Jupiter is in the wrong place. Too close to people and a series of valleys where people would look down on turbines from ridges on either side. Never going to work. Well done NSW for seeing an ill conceived wind farm for what it is.

    • neroden

      Sane people are totally OK with looking at wind turbines. I like to see them.

  • Coley

    Find out the main organisers of the ‘resistance’ ….offer to park a turbine on their land, with associated ‘financial compensation’ ….and the ‘resistance’ will quickly need to find an new organisation committee-;)

  • john

    I so remember having sound pressure readings done on vehicles in the 1970’s.
    Surprising to me the inside sound levels were well over 110 Db above the hearing threshold of humans and the sound levels below human hearing were once again extremely high.

    If you can hear a sound propagator this is not sound that is outside your hearing range.
    However these proponents of sound effects from wind generators are proposing there is no back ground noise and are effected by only the turbines.

    Investigation has proved it is extremely hard to find the noise from turbines against the ever present noise from wind through trees, grass and built infrastructure let alone traffic be it vehicles, rail or aeroplane.

    A paper outlining research into wind tourbines.
    https://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1476-069X-10-78

    • George Darroch

      It’s pretty clear from that paper: “no peer reviewed articles demonstrate a direct causal link between people living in proximity to modern wind turbines, the noise they emit and resulting physiological health effects”

  • Paul Surguy

    To have a wind tower on your land somewhere between $20,00 to $40,000 per year someone is missing out and complaining

  • Jane

    This isn’t about wind power. This is about appropriate location of state significant developments. Much of the area proposed is zoned E3. The Dept are clear in their rejection that there are environmental concerns. This area is not broad acre farming. The lobby group is not a small angry mob. We are not a mob. There were 452 submissions. That says a lot. Please be respectful of our life and the lifestyle we chose . We look after the land and regenerate. Many of us a off grid and live in completely solar powered homes. We are all without exception living with our environment and the rich diversity of species. There has to be a better solution than pouring 300 cubic metres of concrete into the ground per turbine. All the components are produced overseas. The carbon footprint of building these developments is huge. We are not lobbying against wind energy. We are lobbying for a better solution.

    • George Darroch

      What? That entire comment made no sense.

    • Brian Tehan

      Are you claiming that the turbines won’t be on agricultural land? The photos show cleared agricultural land. The land can continue to be used for grazing. Down the road are coal mines which are expanding and affecting the local streams and water supplies. Choose environmental destruction and climate change from continuing to mine coal or the view of a turbine slowly turning in the distance,generating zero emissions electricity – a view familiar to most European farmers.