Thank you to Member for Upper Hunter David Layzell, and Upper Hunter Shire Council Councillor Tayah Clout for meeting Timor and Crawney landholders concerned about potential impacts associated with Engie’s proposed Hills of Gold Wind Farm on the Liverpool Range between Nundle, Hanging Rock and Timor.
Landholders were surprised to hear that Engie proposes assessing two alternate routes, Crawney Road and Head of Peel Road via Nundle village, for Oversize Overmass, heavy and light vehicles associated with the two-year construction of the project.
That follows Tamworth Regional Council’s continuing objection to the project, including proposed construction of a private road Devil’s Elbow bypass, stating that Hills of Gold Wind Farm is not an appropriate location and is not in the public interest because of impacts to biodiversity, heritage, rural character, road infrastructure, bush fire control, and visual amenity.
Timor landholder Chris Eagles explained that 60 of the 72 Crawney and Timor residents signed a petition opposing the proposed wind farm. Many of the landowners at Crawney and Timor only became aware of the potential impact of the proposal to them in December 2020 when the Environmental Impact Statement was on public exhibition, nearly two years after it was made public at Nundle in March 2018.
Landholders have had to point out missing residences within eight kilometres of the proposed project area in the proponents assessments.
A major concern of residents is the inadequate assessment of impacts to soil, and surface and ground water on the southern side of the proposed project area.
“It is a unique watershed that absorbs water and slowly releases it from springs. Water is the lifeblood of our community,” Chris said.
“We are concerned that the proponent hasn’t accurately modelled rainfall on the range. There is no way the proponent can mitigate soil erosion, land slips and silting into the Isis River in country of this gradient.”
Representatives of the Newcastle Hunter Valley Speleological Society talked about the significant karst environment surrounding the proposed project area and the importance of subterranean water to the caves and bats, and as excellent reservoirs of water during drought.
There are six sets of caves within a 30km radius of the proposed project area, including Crawney Pass Caves near the proposed western access on Crawney Road.
Society members are concerned that wind farms are major killers of bats and birds that migrate to breed and forage.