This direct neighbouring benefit will be offered to any property located within 1km of a wind turbine and residences, existing at the time of lodgement of the planning application, that are located within 2km of a wind turbine.
It will comprise of annual payments based on a sliding scale, with a minimum of $2000 per annum, depending on the number of turbines ultimately constructed within 1km of a property boundary or 2km of a residence should the project go ahead.
“This is the first time in Australia that a wind farm developer has voluntarily offered to make such payments,” said Trustpower Business Development Manager Rodney Ahern.
“The scheme is intended to engage the community in situations in where they may feel they may be affected in some way by the presence of the wind farm and should be included in the benefits generated by the project,” Mr Ahern said.
The payments would be attached to each property and continue through any change in ownership, this providing a permanent income – and increased land value – for the properties affected.
He said the offer would be in the form of an agreement that would specify the agreed payment to commence when the wind farm is constructed, a commitment from Trustpower not to construct any turbines within 1km of a residence (which is existing at the time of lodgement of the planning application) and some restrictions on the property to ensure land uses do not interfere with the operation of the wind farm.
“While there is an obvious benefit to landowners who will host wind turbines on their properties, there has been no obligation on developers to spread that benefit to directly neighbouring properties,” Mr Ahern said.
“Our obligation is to make sure the wind farm is designed so that it meets current planning regulations, and as far as neighbouring properties are concerned that principally involves meeting noise guidelines. Trustpower feels it can go further than this and intends to do so through these neighbouring benefit agreements.”
Mr Ahern said that there was no obligation on any neighbouring landowner to take up the agreement, which was a once-off offer that would cease once the public consultation period was completed next year. He said it was likely the offer would extend to around 60 properties in the region.