Scaled-back Bango Wind farm approved with conditions

Scaled-back plans for the Bango Wind Farm, 30km north of Yass near Boorowa and Rye Park, has been approved with conditions by the state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC).

The announcement came on Wednesday, May 2.

“Having carefully considered all the evidence before it and weighed the issues raised by those both for and against the proposal, the commission has today approved the development application with conditions,” the IPC said in a statement on May 1.

In making its determination, the IPC concluded that, subject to the imposed conditions, the Bango Wind Farm would not result in the following:

  • Significant adverse impact on traffic and transport routes.
  • Significant adverse impact on biodiversity.
  • Adverse noise impacts on the amenity of nearby residences.
  • Significant local or cumulative visual impacts that could not be appropriately mitigated.

In addition, the IPC concluded that the wind farm would contribute the following:

  • Renewable energy generation to meet the legislated Australian target.
  • Social and economic benefits for communities within the Yass Valley and Hilltops LGAs and will be in the public interest.

Bango Wind Farm Pty Ltd had originally sought permission from the NSW Department of Planning and  Environment to establish up to 122 wind turbines in three clusters between Boorowa and Yass.

We have been working with government agencies and the local community over many years to ensure that this project balances social, environmental and economic needs.

Kristy Old, development manager at CWP Renewables

The company subsequently amended its plans to include a maximum of 75 turbines to lessen the wind farm’s amenity and biodiversity impacts.

The department subsequently recommended that four more turbines be removed to reduce visual effects on residents, resulting in 71 turbines recommended for approval.

Chair of the Commission Mary O’Kane appointed a three-member panel, comprising Mr John Hann, Ms Carol Austin and Mr Paul Forward, to determine the matter.

The commissioners examined in detail the application, the department’s environmental assessment report, and information provided by Yass Valley and Hilltops Councils, as well as other government agencies.

They also met with the proponent and conducted an inspection of the proposed site before holding a public meeting in Boorowa to listen to the affected community’s views.

Residents have their say

Residents raised several key concerns in written submissions to the IPC and at the public meeting.

Concerns included environmental and visual impacts, health concerns and damages to road infrastructures.

“The commission also heard from residents who spoke in favour of the wind farm,” the IPC statement said.

John McGrath, secretary of Yass Landscape Guardians, said a major concern he had was the decommissioning of wind farms.

He said decommissioning now appears to be amended as there seems to be some legislation in place requiring bank bonds be set in place at the start of a wind farm.

“To date, the concern of decommissioning was guidelines only,” Mr McGrath said.

At a May 1 meeting with the Department of Planning and Environment regarding the Coppabella Wind Farm, 30km west of Yass, Mr McGrath discussed decommissioning legislation, saying it was lacking.

“That's when the department mentioned new rulings on decommissioning, including bank bonds for same,” he said.

Mr McGrath has emailed the department for further clarification.

Developer welcomes news

Kristy Old, development manager at CWP Renewables, which is the developer of the wind farm, welcomed the news.

“We are thrilled with today’s announcement.

“We have been working with government agencies and the local community over many years to ensure that this project balances social, environmental and economic needs,” she said.

Project construction is expected to create 150 full-time equivalent jobs, with a local spending stimulus of more than $4 million during the construction period.

During its 25-year operational life, the wind farm will contribute about $12 million to Yass Valley and Hilltops councils through rate returns and Community Enhancement Funds, which will be used to fund local community projects.

“In addition, the 525 GWh per year of electricity produced by the Bango Wind Farm will replace an equivalent amount of higher cost, higher emission electricity,” Ms Old said.

In March 2018, Yass Valley Council’s director of planning, Chris Berry, expressed concerns about the project’s effects on local road infrastructure.

The draft Voluntary Planning Agreement between the council and Bango Wind Farm Pty Ltd for a community enhancement scheme was also on public exhibition until April 11, 2018.