THE ARMIDALE region is one step closer to having a community-owned wind farm after more than three-dozen near neighbours of the proposed site expressed their support for the plan.
In recent months, the New England Wind Consortium has liaised with residents living within a four to five kilometre radius of the potential wind farm site at Herbert Park, north east of Armidale.
Some 35 residents attended a community forum in April, with another 25 attending a general meeting at the end of last month.
The level of community support paves the way for the development of a landholder agreement for wind monitoring between the owners of three properties the farm is set to be built on.
“Genuine community support is essential for a successful community-owned wind farm,” New England Wind project director Adam Blakester said.
“The openness of including neighbours in our site selection process is something that the New England Wind Consortium, and the landholders looking at hosting the wind farm, are very passionate about.”
Practical concerns were raised at the meetings by some attendants, including the potential impact of the eight to 10 wind turbines on light aircraft used for crop-dusting on nearby properties.
But Mr Blakester said preliminary advice from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority indicated there were no outstanding issues related to the use of aircraft.
“Preliminary feedback suggests it won’t be a problem,” he said. “Light aircraft need to duck and weave past various other obstacles at present, such as powerlines and mobile phone towers.”
Concerns about the level of noise likely to be generated by the wind turbines were addressed by one of the landholders at the meeting. He said noise from the rifle range on his property could not be heard on adjoining properties, meaning it was unlikely turbines would cause problems for nearby residents.
“There are no dwellings within a two kilometre radius of the site, and there are also nearby woodland areas that can shield nearby residents from noise,” Mr Blakester said.
New England Wind has organised a study tour to Capital Wind Farm near Canberra in September for nearby residents and those interested in investing in the local wind farm.
Mr Blakester said the tour would help clear up uncertainties about wind farms and their local impact.
“This will provide an opportunity for community members to get some first-hand experience of wind farms,” he said.
“We could hand out papers showing scientific data about their impact, but it’s a lot more effective to get out there and give people that first-hand experience.”