Flight school knocks wind farms

Neil Hansford
Neil Hansford

A DIRECTOR of the Australia Asia Flight School has complained that safe guards to make turbines clearly identifiable to aircraft are not in place at the Sapphire Wind farm.

A proposal by CWP Renewables, owners of the Wind Farm Project west of Glen Innes to make modifications to the height of their turbines was open for public comment recently.

The proposal seeks to reduce the maximum number of wind turbines from 159 to 109 and increase the maximum tip height of the blades from 157 metres to 200 metres.

Flight School Director Neil Hansford said they are happy to see the development of wind farms in the Glen Innes and Inverell area but that it was imperative that sufficient safe guards for aircraft are put in place.

“We are asking CWP to make the turbines clearly identifiable day or night to aircraft of all types,” he said.

“There has been reluctance by both proponents to date to accept the requirement of perimeter safety lighting of their wind farms and we are at a loss to understand why do they not accept that what is required for TV, Radio and phone towers shouldn’t apply to them.

“Some of these turbines will be 200 metres high which intrudes into the altitude which a helicopter can fly and in poor weather a light aircraft may come below 1,000 feet to get under cloud.”

Mr Hansford said his concern was not for students of the flight school but other aviation users in the area who won’t be as tightly controlled in their flying.

“Should there be even one aircraft accident related to the wind turbines the whole reputation of Glen Innes as the perfect place to train pilots goes out the door forever,” he said.

However CWP Chief Operating Officer Edward Mounsey said a thorough aviation impact assessment and obstacle lighting review was undertaken prior to commencing with the proposed changes to the project.

“The assessments gave consideration to all safety guidelines for wind farms, including those issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and concluded that lighting would be visually intrusive at night and should only be required where a clear safety benefit would result,” he said. 

“The public exhibition process is designed to elicit comments for further consideration and we thank the flight school for their feedback and we will review all concerns raised during the exhibition phase and, in consultation with the NSW Department of Planning, seek to reach a resolution. 

“We will be giving a presentation on the project and local opportunities to the Glen Innes Rotary Club on Monday April 4 and we will explain our position further at that meeting.”

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