ACT News

Farmer rejects wind turbines - and $30,000 carrot

Marilyn Garry has rejected wind farm proponent Epuron's offer of $30,000 a year for hosting three turbines and other infrastructure on her family's grazing property near Binalong.

Wind farm hosts generally welcome an opportunity to host turbines because the cash flow counters drought and volatility in agriculture. 

Capital cost: Marilyn Garry fears wind turbines on her grazing property near Binalong will make stock infertile.
Capital cost: Marilyn Garry fears wind turbines on her grazing property near Binalong will make stock infertile.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Epuron proposes a $700 million wind farm with more than 130 turbines on the peaks of Coppabella hills and Marilba hills. The two ranges sit on either side of Mrs Garry's property "Mylora".

Mrs Garry's husband John died in April. She said while he considered hosting wind farm infrastructure following a meeting six years ago between Epuron and surrounding farmers, he eventually rejected them, too.

"They are just hideous. They will make sheep and cattle sterile," Mrs Garry said. "The government is paying subsidies, if they don't pay, if they pull the rug, the turbines will be left here to rust.

"We have an airstrip on our property. Our son flies down twice a year from Toowoomba with his wife and children. Everyone around here uses the airstrip for spreading aerial super, they pay $1 a tonne. It is also used for fire fighting," Mrs Garry said.

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She said turbines and powerlines would prevent aircraft from using the landing strip.

Mrs Garry has written to NSW Planning saying despite her rejection of Epuron's turbines, they were still shown on maps, along with infrastructure.

Neighbour Mary Ann Robinson said NSW Planning had been led to believe Mrs Garry was to be a host, which meant Epuron was not required to do as many impact assessments.

Epuron says it will not discuss agreements it has with individual landholders.

Construction manager Andrew Wilson said even when a wind farm project had planning approval, infrastructure could not be built on any land without the consent and agreement of the landowner.

"Wind farms are not like other resource projects such as coal-seam gas as it can only proceed with the consent of the landowners and also involves the establishment and annual contribution to a community enhancement fund," Mr Wilson said. 

Epuron lodged a development application in 2009 and says the project has been on public exhibition twice, in 2009 and a preferred project report in 2012.

NSW Planning is now preparing an assessment report, which should be released soon, Mr Wilson said.

"The benefits of renewable energy and wind farms in particular are well established, not just for the landowners who lease part of their land to the wind farm company, but also for the surrounding community," Mr Wilson said.

Epuron told the Renewable Energy Target review panel in June it had spent $470 million and, with certainty over the RET, would invest several billion dollars more in renewables.