Hills of Gold Residents to Have Their Say on Wind Farm Community Enhancement Fund

Residents in the Upper Hunter Shire and Tamworth Regional local government areas are being assured they will have a say on how funds are spent as part of the Hills of Gold Wind Farm Community Enhancement Fund (CEF).

Project proponent, ENGIE has increased its commitment to $3,000 per turbine per year as part of the Hills of Gold Wind Farm Development, which will see up to $210,000 per annum CPI indexed annually, over the 25-year operational life of the wind farm.

ENGIE General Manager of Asset Development, Andrew Kerley, said the CEF would be used to support community projects and events in the local government areas hosting wind turbines.

“This is the community’s fund and residents will be fully involved in how the money is spent,” he said.

“If the project is approved, funds from the CEF will be split between the regional communities, depending on how many wind turbines are placed in their local government area.”

Based on the wind turbine layout lodged as part of ENGIE’s Environmental Impact Statement, up to $42,000 will be allocated to the Upper Hunter Shire communities annually, while the Tamworth local government area will see up to $168,000 annually.

Following feedback from council submissions, ENGIE has increased its per turbine commitment to the fund to $3,000 annually, up from its 2020 commitment of $2,500.

While discussions with Tamworth Regional Council are ongoing, Upper Hunter Shire Council recently voted to support the proposed Hills of Gold Wind Farm CEF.

Upper Hunter Shire Mayor, Cr Maurice Collison says “It is important for our residents that Council accepts this offer from Hills of Gold Wind Farm and ensures our communities benefit from development in our region.”

Mr Kerley says it is great to have the Upper Hunter Shire Council on board.

“We are working hard with each council to ensure a positive way forward for the project,” he said.
“A Voluntary Planning Agreement, which will govern how the CEF is administered, will be prepared and be put on public exhibition for the community to have its say.”

“If the project is approved, a dedicated Community Committee, made up of residents and council members and an independent chair, will be created in each local government area to determine how the money is spent.”

ENGIE is expected to lodge its Response to Public Submissions by the end of September.

Hills of Gold
Jul 19, 2021