The controversial Jupiter Wind Farm near Tarago has had over 30 turbines removed from it – in response to community feedback.
The proponents EPYC Pty Ltd have reduced the number of turbines from 88 to 54 in its most recent plans.
This will reduce the area in the project from 4999 ha to 4135 ha, resulting from the removal of the area previously identified as the southern precinct.
The Jupiter wind farm is located 5km south-east of Tarago and 18km east of Bungendore.
EPYC Pty Ltd has also made minor changes (up to 100m) in regard to the location of 14 of the remaining wind turbines.
No changes to the dimensions of the wind turbines are proposed, with the turbines remaining at 173m high.
While the reduction in turbines has been welcomed by the Residents Against Jupiter Wind Farm (RAJWF), they say many will still be adversely affected by the proposed wind farm, which attracted a total of 574 submissions from 451 different submitters during its exhibition period, from last November to February this year.
The main issues cited in opposition to the wind farm were the visual impacts, noise, adverse change to the vista of the rural area, inadequate mitigation measures, the adequacy of the assessment and turbine night lighting impacts.
Inadequate consultation between the proponent and the community was also raised.
RAJWF spokesperson Dr Michael Crawford said while he was pleased the submissions of residents had been taken into account, the community remained opposed to it.
“It is good to lose 30 turbines from the proposed wind farm, which means some people will be less affected, but for others it has not changed much at all.” Dr Crawford said.
“The turbine removals appear to have been driven predominantly by two things: (1) objections by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), which were scathing and (2) when those turbines were removed the southern precinct became financially non-viable.”
“There has been no serious response to the community as a whole, otherwise they would have scrubbed the thing.”
Dr Crawford claims part of the problem is the Department of Planning has allowed a developer-convenient approach in the past, which ignores real people.
He said in the approval process the lines have been blurred between the the Department of Planning and the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC), as to who who is the ultimate decision maker?
“In the past they (the department) have made recommendations about what the PAC should do in relation to the project, which an Auditor General’s review in January 2017, claimed the department should not be making recommendations to the PAC but provide as assessment only,” Dr Crawford said.
“Residents see the department being as much of a problem as the developer.”
“The department clearly tries to play a role, which is keep the locals quiet, pacify them and at the end of the day knowing they are going to approve these things.”
The Department will now finalise its assessment of the merits of the amended application in accordance with relevant legislation and NSW Government policies and guidelines, including detailed consideration of the issues raised in submissions from government agencies and the community.
The Department will then refer the project to the independent Planning Assessment Commission to make the final decision.
The Planning Department said the amended application and response to submissions are now available on the Department’s website.