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Department of Planning Rejects Jupiter EIS

On October 29th, the Department of Planning and Environment rejected the Jupiter EIS that had been submitted by EPYC.  A media release from the Department said:

The Department has reviewed the EIS and found that the proponent has:

  • not adequately assessed the visual and noise impacts of the project, as required by government guidelines;
  • not undertaken sufficient consultation with local residents about measures to reduce impacts of the wind farm, particularly in regard to visual impacts; and
  • not fully considered the compatibility of the project with local planning controls and the emerging rural-residential nature of the area.

The Department went on to say "information presented to the community regarding impacts of state significant developments like wind farms needed to be of the highest quality", and clearly the EIS submitted by EPYC did not meet that requirement.

EPYC may still rework the EIS and resubmit but the Department has pointed to substantial problems with the EIS.  It is highly unusual for the Department to publicly reject an EIS for a State Significant Development in this way, including issuing a critical media release.

The story was subsequently carried in the Goulburn Post and the Canberra Times.

ABC Radio subsequently interviewed Charlie Prell, from the Australian Wind Alliance, which represents much of the wind industry.  During the interview he commented "So as the Department says the consultation hasn’t been adequate and the practices of the wind farm developer have been unfortunately lacking."

The interviewer, Louise Maher, asked "How much of a visual impact would there have been?", to which he replied "With turbines they’re very large, there will always be a large visual impact."

The proposal is for 88 wind turbines 173 metres tall, so there would certainly be, in Charlie Prell's words, "a large visual impact".  The Department has explicitly pointed to EPYC's failure to adequately address this impact.  It has also refered to their failure to fully consider the "emerging rural-residential nature of the area".  In fact the area is already heavily rural residential in nature and becoming more so.

As the Palerang mayor has pointed out, Palerang council does not use a "rural residential" zoning, as such, but it does recognise localities where the land use is rural residential in nature, and the council has a policy that wind farms should not be established in such localities.

Were EPYC to accurately and adequately address all the points raised in the Department's rejection, it would be forced to describe why the area is an entirely inappropriate one for a wind farm.

We wait for the next installment to see if EPYC does what the SEARS require, or again fails to do so, which would lead to either the Department once more rejecting the EIS as unsuitable for public exhibition, or opening it up to a huge number of well founded objections if placed on public exhibition.