Wind Energy Partners is closer to putting in a formal application for the Hills of Gold Energy Project, after doing its preliminary environmental assessment.
The report, lodged with the Department of Planning and Environment, takes a “worst-case approach” to the effects of the proposed wind farm, including visual, noise and biodiversity impacts.
It is a standard step in which the company must describe the project and its physical context; show the site’s suitability; and say what it has done to consult with the affected community.
Lodging the report allows the company to ask for the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements with in 28 days.
The SEARs – some standard, some project-specific – will tell Wind Energy Partners what it must address in detail in its environmental impact statement for the project.
Its next step will be to submit that statement to the department.
Department of Planning & Environment representatives will meet with Nundle area residents tonight to discuss the planning process.
Among the key areas in the preliminary environmental assessment, the report says the area is suitable for the wind due to its strong wind speed, relative isolation and low population density.
It says the benefits of the plan would include producing “enough power to supply up to 193,900 average Australian homes annually and help meet global, Australian, and state emissions reduction targets”.
There would be “up to 272 jobs during construction during a two-year construction period and up to 34 operational jobs during the project’s 35-year production life”.
The report includes the visual impacts of wind turbines from 19 locations, including Hanging Rock lookout, Arc-En-Ciel Trout Farm, properties on Barry, Shearers and Morrisons Gap roads, and Nundle village.
Among the visual impacts, the assessment says: “Direct impacts on the Nundle valley pastures Landscape Character Area (LCA) are not anticipated to arise from the turbines, however the turbines may contrast with the perceived sense of remoteness and enclosure offered by the surrounding foothills and mountainous range.”
The report lists the potential noise impacts on about 50 sites; measured levels were compliant with the wind farm environmental noise limits in all but nine of the receptor sites.
About the project
Wind Energy Partners’ proposal is to develop a wind farm of up to 97 turbines on the ridgeline between Hanging Rock and Crawney Pass, 60km south-east of Tamworth.
It would supply electricity into the national electricity grid through a proposed connection into the TransGrid Liddell-Tamworth transmission line.
The project is classed as state-significant because it has a capital investment value of more than $30 million.
Such projects require approval from the Minister for Planning, who can delegate that task to another authority.