THE $195 million Flyers Creek wind farm approved on Monday will generate more than enough electricity to power all of the homes in Orange, Bathurst and the Blayney Shire, according to its developers Infigen Energy.
But the approval for 42 turbines will lapse in 12 months unless Infigen is able to convince all landholders hosting wind turbines, including three who initially supported and now oppose the wind farm, to give workers access to their properties.
The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) OK’d all but one of the 150-metre tall wind turbines proposed on 26 properties 20 kilometres south of Orange.
Infigen senior development manager Jonathan Upson said the “community wind farm project” began when two farmers approached the company about establishing a wind farm on their properties more than five years ago.
“It’s a good result... it has been a long time,” he said.
Infigen steadfastly maintained contracts signed with landholders in the project’s beginning were still valid.
But in its determination the PAC said discussions with its lawyers proved the need for new agreements with the three dissenting landholders, who are hosting four turbines, was justified.
Mr Upson said all landholders received a payment when they signed contracts to host the turbines, but would also receive annual payments understood to be about $10,000 per turbine and royalties.
“We think it’s regrettable that the three landholders have apparently changed their minds, we look forward to meeting with them in the next few weeks,” he said.
He does not believe the company will need to seek new contracts with the landholders.
The PAC has attached 36 pages of conditions to the project, including a “rigorous independent auditing requirement” during construction and the first year of operation.
But in its determination the PAC found the project could be designed and operated to “achieve acceptable noise outcomes”, biodiversity impacts could be “adequately mitigated” and crucially “no adverse health impacts” were expected.
Mr Upson said the conditions were “quite stock standard” and after work gets under way in about a year’s time, construction would take 12 to 18 months.
The Department of Planning recommended the project’s approval last November, but asked for two of the four proposed turbines to be scrapped because of the unacceptable visual impact on a nearby property.
But the PAC deleted only one turbine from Infigen’s original plan.
Mr Upson said losing one turbine would not have a significant financial impact on the project and he was relieved for the landholder who now had the OK to host the other contentious turbine.