‘We have a responsibility to the community’

CENREC chair asks Infigen to fund Flyers Creek reconciliation process

12 February 2014 at the Blayney Shire Community Centre, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) heard from a cross section of the community regarding the proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm project. Among the speakers was Dr Patrick Bradbery, Chair of the Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative (CENREC).

Dr Bradbery began by summarising the economic benefits which will flow from the sale of electricity generated from this clean, renewable resource, including the estimated $340,000 in dividends and community grants.

He reiterated points from NSW Planning’s recommendation for approval of the project:

  • offsetting greenhouse gas, particulate and other polluting emissions
  • avoiding water consumption associated with fossil fuel powered energy generation

as well as the Department’s satisfaction ‘that the project can achieve acceptable amenity, health and environmental standards through the recommended conditions of approval and the Proponent’s Statement of Commitments, and can proceed in a sustainable manner with overall benefits to the State.’

Dr Bradbery then addressed the opposition to the project, saying ‘It is recognized by Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative that not everybody is in favour of the proposed development, including a number of the neighbours and that those who oppose the development have every right to do so.  As an Aboriginal person, I am only too well aware of the deleterious impact of unwelcome changes to traditional ways of life.’

‘However, in the interests of the global population now and in the future, we cannot continue to do what we have always done and expect the outcome to be different.  Fifty thousand years of living in this land has taught the Aboriginal people that if we do not respect country, it will not respect us.  We cannot continue to rely on fossil fuels for our growing energy needs.  It is Central NSW Renewable Energy Cooperative’s collective belief that adopting renewable energy in a variety of forms is essential to the future well being of the world and its inhabitants.’

He noted that some of the concerns expressed at the PAC hearing on the previous day resonated with Board members of CENREC and emphasised, ‘We are determined that these concerns should be satisfactorily resolved by the PAC before approval of the project.  As a community based organisation, we recognise that we have a responsibility to the community, and we need to be comfortable that legitimate concerns are heard and judged equitably,’ adding he would leverage CENREC’s position as mediator to seek clarification from Infigen about the matters.

Of particular concern is the division in the community referred to by local member Paul Toole and so obvious in many of the presentations at the hearing.  However, Dr Bradbery disagreed that the cause of this division is the wind farm per se.

‘It is the flawed process that seems to have been undertaken by Infigen, the Department of Planning and other stakeholders.  Surely, there is one lesson that can be learned from the last 226 years of Australian history.  When ‘power over’ is used to achieve important outcomes, deep-seated division is an inevitable consequence.  We are only now beginning to see the prospect of that division being healed,’ he argued.

‘I am therefore requesting the PAC Commissioners to approve the Flyers Creek Wind Farm Project with an additional condition.  That condition is that the proponent funds a significant and on-going community reconciliation process among the members of the Flyers Creek community.  The division must not be ignored,’ he concluded.