THE construction of larger turbines at the Sapphire Wind Farm near Glen Innes has been approved, despite some community opposition.
Wind Prospect CWP applied to reduce the number of turbines built at Sapphire Wind Farm from 159 down to 109, making up for the shortfall with larger and more efficient infrastructure.
The new turbine’s maximum height will increase from 157 metres to 200 and the rotor diameter will grow from 126 to 140 metres.
The Department of Planning and Environment has held consultation on the modifications and approved the changes with strict conditions.
“The applicant’s change in plans is in response to the availability of new wind energy technology”, a department spokesperson said.
“New turbine designs have increased in size and improved efficiency, which has prompted the applicant to significantly reduce the number of proposed turbines, while generating the same amount of energy.
“Overall, the changes will reduce the impacts of the project, while allowing the economic and environmental benefits of the approved project to be realised.”
Key issues identified during consultation include visual and noise impacts on nearby residents, and the effect on aviation at the Glen Innes Airport, as a result of the larger turbines. The department has applied conditions, including voluntary acquisition rights for residents who will have high visual impacts, strict noise limits and further consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Seventeen submissions were made to the department from government agencies, interest groups and the general public regarding the changes. Six submissions from the community objected to the changes.
The $400 million project will supply about 250 jobs during construction and eventually provide power to 130,000 homes in NSW.