Saturday, 11 November 2006

Green light for wind farm

Canberra Times
Friday 10/11/2006 Page: 3

A controversial $220 million wind farm north of Bungendore is a step closer after receiving crucial planning approval. NSW Prettier Morris lemma announced yesterday that the 63-turbine wind farm had been granted approval, subject to 80 strict conditions.

The wind farm, which would be capable of generating enough electricity for 52,000 homes, has been the source of controversy in the Bungendore area, with residents worried about the impact on the landscape and environment.

Some residents have said the development would create an intrusive "visual scar" and undermine the beauty and historic cultural value of Lake George. Canberra scientists have also voiced concerns about plans to clear endangered woodlands to install the turbines.

Monaro MP Steve Whan said renewable energy was "vitally important for the future of Australia - and of our planet." "We simply must do more to help off-set and reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

Yesterday's announcement from the Premier demonstrates a commitment on the part of the state Government to encourage alternative energy sources.

"The threat of global warming is very real - and we're seeing more evidence of its impacts every day," Mr lemma said. The wind farm would employ tip to 25 people during the nine-month construction period.

Mr lemma is hoping the wind farm will help the Government achieve its aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He wants the state to double its production of "green" energy over the next five years, and has announced Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets for the state's electricity companies.

Renewable energy makes tip 6 per cent of total energy used in NSW. Under the mandatory targets announced by Mr lemma, that figure will rise to 10 per cent by 2010 and 15 per cent by 2020.

Mr lemma described it as the "first step" in the state's plan to address climate change. But he warned that electricity bills would increase, since renewable energy was more expensive to produce than dirtier fuels.