CSIRO Study: Acceptance of Rural Wind Farms

1 February 2012

Findings: Australian Wind Farm Case Studies

Nine wind farms were selected as case studies for in-depth examination and analysis of the community and other stakeholder perspectives.

Capital Wind Farm, NSW

The Capital Wind Farm is located near Bungendore in New South Wales (NSW) and has been operational since October 2009. There are approximately 50 residences within 4 km of the proposed wind farm. The NSW Government considered the Capital Wind Farm to have passed successfully through a smooth consultation and approval process (NSW Planning, 2006). A project application was lodged in December 2005 and received 85 public submissions, 49 of which were objections and 36 were supportive (NSW Planning, 2006).

The three core objections raised were noise (including operational), flora and fauna effects (including waterbirds), and visual impacts. Although these were the most commonly voiced concerns, soil and water management, traffic and transport management were also articulated. The proponents submitted a report that addressed all objections, and approval was given subject to recommended conditions to mitigate several of the identified impacts.

These included ongoing compliance mechanisms, independent reviews, community consultation, complaints management and performance audits (Infigen Energy, 2011). Of interest, the same company that owns and operate Capital Wind Farm has recently secured approval for a 50MW solar power farm in the area (NSW Planning, 2010).

The interview participants predominantly conveyed positive messages about their experience of the Capital Wind Farm. Some specific benefits included: a new fire truck purchased for the rural fire service; turbine hosts funded and guided in their land transfer from crown lease to freehold, and general economic gains for the local town.

It was noted that the Bungendore Chamber of Commerce adopted a new logo featuring wind turbines as a reflection of the positive impact and presence of this wind farm on community businesses.

Several participants referred to feeling comfortable with the ‘reality’ of the wind farm post-construction, and that this has resulted in minimal opposition to a new, adjacent wind farm currently under construction. This has implications for a possible Social Licence to Operate, where prior and positive experience with a wind developer and development has influenced the acceptance of an additional wind farm.

The full report is available on CSIRO’s website.