The state’s Independent Planning Commission has refused development consent for a multi-million-dollar wind farm development in the NSW Southern Tablelands.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment referred the proposed 23-turbine Crookwell III Wind Farm to the Commission for determination in April this year amid community opposition.
Commissioners Peter Duncan (Panel chair), Professor Zada Lipman and Adrian Pilton were appointed to consider the $120-million project, earmarked for a 1500-hectare site at Crookwell, 25km northwest of Goulburn.
The Commissioners met with Crookwell Development Pty Ltd (the Applicant), Department and Upper Lachlan Shire Council. They also held a public meeting in Crookwell to listen to the community’s concerns which centred around visual and landscape impacts, potential human health impacts and remediation and rehabilitation.
After carefully considering all the evidence and weighing the community’s views, the Commission has today (Friday 25 October 2019) determined to refuse this state significant development application.
In its Statement of Reasons for Decision, the Commission concluded that while the wind farm “would result in the public benefits of delivering renewable energy and reduce the reliance on fossil fuel consumption, there are significant residual issues”, including:
• the visual impacts of the Project are unacceptable given the significant visual impacts on multiple residences and the proximity of turbines to non-associated residences
• the site is not suitable for the Project, because of its proximity to and the nature and scale of visual impacts on residences and the community
• the Project is inconsistent with objects (a), (b), (e) and (g) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 and is therefore not in the public interest; and
• the Project does not satisfactorily address the objectives of the E3 – Environmental Management Zone of the Upper Lachlan LEP 2010 that require the protection of aesthetic values
The Commission also cited the Project’s potential adverse cumulative impacts in an area where there are other wind farms already operating.
“The community raised a number of significant concerns about the visual impacts of the project on surrounding residences and the cumulative effect of wind farm projects with residences potentially able to view wind turbines in multiple viewing sectors,” the Commission noted. “The community expressed concern that wind farm projects will transform the landscape from an attractive rural landscape towards an industrial landscape dominated by wind turbines.”
The Department originally referred the SSD application to the former Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) in 2015 with a recommendation that the proposed wind farm be approved; however, after a holding a public meeting the PAC sent it back to the Department for further assessment.
The Department completed its final assessment report in April this year, which concluded the wind farm should be refused.
The Commission’s Statement of Reasons for Decision is available here .