Winds of change too late to stop Flyers Creek project

IF changes to the approval process for wind farms announced by the state government last week applied to the Flyers Creek wind farm the 43-turbine development wouldn’t exist, according to opponent Patina Schneider.

Two days after the Flyers Creek project was approved, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard removed the former Labor government’s “rotten laws” deeming wind farms critical infrastructure, which had ruled out any rights of appeal for the projects.

It means nine wind farm proposals, which failed to comply with the government’s deadlines during the transition, will be considered in an “open and transparent process”, according to Mr Hazzard, with the community’s appeal rights restored.

But as the Flyers Creek project met the transitional requirements the $150 million development’s approval was unaffected by the change.

The decision, and its timing, has “rubbed salt into the wound” of opponents and has angered Mrs Schneider.

“They purposely waited [for the Flyers Creek approval], it was contrived,” she said.

“I’m dealing with people every day affected by wind farms and the impact is not being recognised.”

OUR SAY: WIND FARM RESEARCH A MORE SENSIBLE OPTION

Orange’s Simon Wright is a director and board member of Central NSW Renewable Energy Co-op (CENREC) a community organisation that will own one of the Flyers Creek wind turbines.

Although he was relieved the changes did not affect the Flyers Creek project, he fears it will make the process for wind farm approval even more complex.

“We [NSW] already have the most draconian planning laws for wind farms,” he said.

“It’s already a very long drawn out process, it’s easier in NSW to get CSG [coal seam gas] exploration up and running than a wind farm.”

Mr Wright said the large amount of submissions in support and against the Flyers Creek project showed stakeholders already had an opportunity to have their say and the state government had commissioned solid research into the impacts of turbines.

While it was hard to say if more wind farms were possibilities for the central west, he said at a time when the area was losing jobs it was “absolutely insane” to stifle opportunities to stimulate the economy.

“[Flyers Creek] will have a small number of permanent local jobs, but obviously large numbers of jobs during the construction phase,” he said.

“Flyers Creek will generate enough power for Bathurst, Orange, and Blayney put together, it’s local power, local jobs and local wealth.

“Why would we try and slow this down?”

clare.colley@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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