DEVELOPERS of a community owned wind farm in the New England region have hit back at proposed planning guidelines for NSW, claiming that they are overly restrictive.
New England Wind has lodged a submission to the NSW Government regarding their draft Wind Farm Planning Guidelines, which include noise criteria that are among the most stringent in the world.
Project director for New England Wind, Adam Blakester said there was no need for the guidelines to be so strict.
“They're very restrictive and very unfair,” Mr Blakester said.
“They make it much harder and a lot more expensive for community owned wind farms to get off the ground.”
“Another thing, it's like a free kick for the coal and coal seam gas industries because they don't need to satisfy the same guidelines.”
Under the proposed guidelines, there would be a ban on wind turbines within two kilometres of residences unless there is a written agreement from the landowners or permission given via a gateway process.
Wind farms would also be subject to noise restriction of 35 decibels, lower than those in Victoria, South Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America and less than the noise made by the average household refrigerator.
Other restrictions relate to visual impact, impact on landscape values, blade glint, shadow flicker and impact on birds and bats.
New England Wind is set to announce a site within months for its proposed wind farm which would feature between eight to 10 wind turbines.
The organisation was established under the auspices of local company Starfish Entreprises with a consortium of New England residents leading work on the project.
Mr Blakester said a feasibility study conducted in 2011 had attracted a large amount of community support, including positive feedback from a survey of 600 people and attendance of 300 people at community forums.
“Overwhelming, most of them wanted their electricity to be created by wind or solar power,” Mr Blakester said.
“The message that is there is we want to move away from coal and fossil fuels.”
Once a site is announced, the project will have to monitor the wind levels at the location for two years, with another two to three years needed for obtaining permits, fundraising and construction.
The completed $30 million wind farm is expected to produce enough energy to power half the houses in the New England region.