The NSW Independent Planning Commission has rejected the proposed Crookwell Stage 3 wind farm in New South Wales in a blow to the local Crookwell community.
The Australian Wind Alliance (AWA) National Coordinator, Andrew Bray, said that while the rejection of the wind farm was a disappointing decision, it won’t stop the progress of wind power in the state.
“It shows the NSW regulations place undue weight on visual amenity at a time when wind farms can be contributing so much to farmers, local communities and clean energy generation,” Mr Bray said.
The decision also comes as a bitter blow for farmers that are coping with one of the worst droughts in recorded history, and who were hoping to find the security of drought-proof income from lease payments.
“The spin-off benefits for local workers, contractors and small businesses is huge from a project like this, so its refusal will disappoint many,” Mr Bray said.
“80 per cent of the neighbours within 2km signed neighbour agreements in support of the project, so it appears the decision has prioritised the views of those further away.
“While this is a blow for Crookwell and the local community, we shouldn’t read too much into it in terms of wind development in the state. This is a closely settled rural area with a number of wind farms already which makes it unique in the state.
“The rest of the state moves forward, with at least 20 projects moving through approvals and construction.
“Just last week an IPC hearing on the White Rock 2 Wind Farm didn’t have a single complaint from the community, suggesting the community is happy with the expansion of that project.
“As drought hits our state hard, we need to be prioritising water-free wind and solar plants over ageing coal plants that guzzle billions of litres of precious groundwater.
“It is imperative the closure of Liddell power station does not slip further beyond its current 2022/23 closure. We have the wind and solar plants ready to replace Liddell and the planning system needs to ensure we have further capacity ready for when additional plants close.
“Wind energy is ready to provide clean energy, jobs and regional investment to New South Wales, yet without proper policy and leadership from both state and federal governments, we won’t move fast enough to capitalise on the inevitable transition to renewable energy.”