THE NSW Department of Planning and Environment has finalised its assessments for two wind farms proposed for the state and referred them to the independent Planning Assessment Commission for final decision, with recommendations to refuse the Jupiter Wind Farm and approve a scaled back Bango Wind Farm.
Mike Young, the Department's Director of Resource and Energy Assessments, said the Department had thoroughly assessed EPYC's application to build the Jupiter Wind Farm near Tarago, including extensive community consultation.
"We considered the application on its merits, paying particular attention to the local context and community," Mr Young said.
"We acknowledge that the company amended the plans and removed 34 wind turbines in response to community feedback. However, our assessment has found that the site and surrounds are fundamentally unsuitable for a large-scale wind farm."
Mr Young added the wind farm proposal 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," Mr Young said.
"The Department received 400 objections from the local community and interest groups during the exhibition period. Queanbeyan-Palerang and Goulburn Mulwaree Councils are also strongly opposed to the development of the wind farm."
Meanwhile, the Department has concluded that scaled-back plans could be approved for the proposed Bango Wind Farm, which is located on a site between Yass and Boorowa in the Southern Tablelands of NSW.
Mr Young said that during the assessment process, CWP Renewables removed 47 turbines from the original 122 turbine plan to reduce the impacts on the local community and the environment.
"The Department has also recommended that four additional turbines be removed to further reduce visual impacts on local residents, making a total of 71 turbines recommended for approval," Mr Young said.
"Overall, the Department found that the changes to the project would strike an appropriate balance between maximising the use of the site's wind resources and minimising impacts on the local community and environment."
According to the Department, the potential benefits of the proposal include the creation of around 160 construction jobs, contributions to Hilltops and Yass Valley Councils worth around $200,000 per year, and the generation of 240 megawatts of renewable energy every year - enough to power about 117,000 homes.
Mr Young added that considering community feedback and independent advice was integral to the assessment process, with the Department recommending strict conditions to minimise potential impacts of the project on the local community and the environment.
The proposed conditions include requiring the company to provide landscaping at residences within four kilometres of any turbines, upgrade and maintain local roads, and meet noise limits.
The Department received 89 submissions from the community and public interest groups during the public exhibition of the plans. More than half the submissions objected to the project raising the potential impacts to views for residents, noise, biodiversity, and traffic.
The independent Planning Assessment Commission will hold a public meeting in each local area and review the Department's assessment before making a final decision on both projects. The assessment reports are available from the Department of Planning and Environment's Major Projects website at <http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/>.