The NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) have recommended the approval of the Bango Wind Farm, which is located 30 km north of Yass in the NSW Central Tablelands.
The Bango Wind Farm Environmental Impact Statement was placed on public exhibition in September 2016 seeking planning approval for a wind farm containing up to 118 wind turbine generators. In response to submissions received from the local community and government agencies, project developer CWP Renewables chose to reduce the proposed number of wind turbine generators to 75 in May last year.
According to the DPE’s announcement yesterday, the changes made by CWP Renewables were justified but didn’t quite go far enough.
“We are delighted to have reached this milestone, however we are disappointed with the recommendation to remove more turbines. It is a matter we will discuss with the Planning Assessment Commission during their review of the project” said Ms. Kristy Old, Development Manager at CWP Renewables.
The environmental benefits of renewable energy are well-understood - a 150 MW wind farm will generate enough clean energy to power approximately 75,000 homes and offset over 430,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year. However, there are also substantial economic benefits to regions that host wind farms.
To help quantify these benefits, CWP Renewables engaged an independent consultant to conduct an Economic Impact Study for the Bango Wind Farm. This study identified that the project is set to provide regional benefits by investing $320 million in wind farm construction, creating 150 fulltime equivalent jobs, with a local spending stimulus of over $4 million during the construction period.
Further, Ms. Old commented, “Over its 25-year operational life, the wind farm will contribute approximately $12 million to Yass Valley and Hilltops Councils through rate returns and Community Enhancement Funds - it is also expected that ten fulltime jobs will be created to oversee maintenance and ongoing operations of the wind farm.”
The Planning Assessment Commission will make a final determination on the approval status of the Bango Wind Farm in the coming months.