A $600-million wind farm on the picturesque hills above Nundle is bound to stir up emotions, but the town has vowed not to let the issue divide it.
More than one-third of the town’s population turned out to a public meeting about the proposed development, which would see up to 98 wind turbines, each standing at 220-metres-tall, stretch along 20 kilometres of ridgeline from Hanging Rock to Crawney, south east of Nundle.
Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group chair Nick Bradford said for many residents it was their first time hearing about the Wind Energy Partners proposal.
“For a town of less than 300 people to get 110 people turn up to a meeting, it obviously means it’s sparked people’s attention,” Mr Bradford said.
He stressed that despite the emotive nature of the proposal, the “brilliant meeting” was “very respectful of people’s differing opinions”.
“This is a community who cares,” Mr Bradford said.
“You cant buy that, you can’t engineer that. It’s just something that is inherently in the people who live here.”
Advocates on both sides of the debate spoke to the crowd, touching on the common theme of the economic benefits to the region and the proposal’s visual impact on the town.
“The Nundle township does not finish where the houses finish, our brand and our identity are our hills of gold that extend to the ridge,” Mr Bradford said.
“Some people may think that 98 wind turbines up there may not look attractive. Some may think differently.”
Mr Bradford described himself as a “fence sitter”, and hoped the community maintained an open mind to the project.
“We’ll find out a lot more information during two community meetings with the developer at the end of the month,” he said.
The meetings will be held on March 22 and 23.
The Leader understands Wind Energy Partners takes the first step in getting the project off the ground at the end of the month, applying to the state government for its Standard Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). Environmental studies are also expected to take place this year.
Wind Energy Partners spokesman Jamie Chivers said the company looked forward to continuing its discussions with the community.
“The Hanging Rock and Nundle area has a rich history and could have an exciting future,” Mr Chivers said.
“We are proposing to develop a wind farm following a feasibility study that proves the hills of gold are windy too.”