THE NSW Government has asked the proponents of the Gullen Range Wind Farm to stop work on key turbines after an investigation by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure found “serious” breaches of its approval.
Many of the 73 turbines have been constructed in different locations to what was originally approved.
Variations range from about a metre to 187 metres off target. Some are now closer to homes than they were supposed to be.
Gold Wind has voluntarily complied with the stop work order but has been warned it could face legal action in the Land and Environment Court.
Planning and Infrastructure executive director Chris Wilson was disappointed by the breaches and said the matter was serious.
“It is essential that the company stop work on the turbines that have been moved closer to homes,” he said.
Last week the proponents voluntarily stopped working on the turbines that had been identified however a spokesperson for the company disputed there had been any breaches. He said they had focused carefully on complying with the Development Approval.
“The project approval authorises the construction of the wind turbines in the locations identified in the environmental assessment but those locations may be subject to ‘minor relocation’,” he said.
“The Department of Planning and Infrastructure approved the Construction and Environmental Management Plan in 2012.
“There have been multiple consistency reviews which have been produced or endorsed by the environmental representative whose appointment was approved by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. These reviews have confirmed consistency of the final layout with the Development Approval, confirming that the project impacts are consistent with the impacts assessed in the Development Approval.”
“An independent expert evaluation of visual impacts assessed that: ‘The minor alterations in arrangement are barely discernible even when the two layouts are compared one above the other. In reality once construction is completed there would be no discernible difference to any viewer’,” the spokesperson said.
“The noise management plan was submitted as part of the operational environmental management plan which has been approved by the department. The noise management plan demonstrates compliance with the relevant noise guidelines with the final layout.”
It is unclear what impact the stop work order will have on the project’s completion. The company says the project is now “well progressed”, all major turbine components were recently delivered, and that construction should be completed by mid-year.
“The Department of Planning and Infrastructure has requested that a 75W application be lodged to address concerns with some of the turbine locations,” the spokesperson said.
“Gullen Range Wind Farm is cooperating with the department on this process.”