NSW Planning Takes Wind Farm To Court Over 69 Turbines Built In The Wrong Locations

Photo Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A NSW wind farm is facing legal action from the Department Planning and Environment (DPE) for building its wind turbines in the wrong locations.

The legal action follows an audit of the Gullen Range Wind Farm near Crookwell, in the state’s south-west which found 69 of the 73 turbines were in the wrong spot – and up to 187 metres from their approved locations, the ABC reports.

The project has been dogged by legal action since it was first approved by the then NSW planning minister, Kristina Keneally in 2009. It went to the Land and Environment Court in 2010 with the company appealing the conditions imposed by the minister while the local council and residents challenged the development’s environmental impact.

Construction began in September 2013, but within weeks the company was asking the Planning department to extend its construction hours, blaming strong winds for delays.

In March this year the Land and Environment Court halted construction over concerns about turbine locations, spread out over a 25km area, varying from the approved plan. In July, the DPE recommended that two turbines, both more than 150-metres from their approved site, be moved.

Goldwind Australia subsequently applied for retrospective approval, but last week the Planning Assessment Commission rejected its application over concerns about the noise, visual and impacts on local residents.

The PAC said the application was inconsistent with the intent and spirit of the Draft NSW Planning Guidelines on wind farms.

Meanwhile, in July, Goldwind sold a 75% share of the project to the Hong Kong-based Chinese company Beijing Jingneng Clean Energy, keeping a quarter share and management rights for the project.

Goldwind Australia now has 21 days to respond to a draft order to move nine turbines and if it challenges, the case will return to the Land and Environment Court.

Goldwind Australia did not return to Business Insider’s calls for comment.

In an earlier statement, the company said it “is not convinced that the DPE recommendation to relocate the two turbines is warranted”.

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