A senior Country Fire Authority officer has acknowledged wind farms hinder aerial firefighting, but dismissed claims they are a major risk to community safety.
Regional CFA director Bob Barry, responding to allegations by wind farm opponents, said the authority was well aware of the issue.
“Yes, the infrastructure would restrict aircraft being used around towers, but there are other avenues of fire suppression,” he said.
“It is no different to having to work around power lines and electrical sub-stations.
“Our aircraft are operated by high-skilled pilots who make the judgement call when it comes to flying near wind turbines and power lines.
“Wind farms do have the benefit of defined road networks with greater fire breaks for fuel and fire management.”
Penshurst wind farm opponent Keith Staff claims the town would be at higher risk with the proposed 223-turbine Penshurst wind farm, which would adjoin the 140-turbine Macarthur facility.
“Add smoke, flames, high winds to this lethal mix and with strong winds blowing in the right direction the whole town would come under threat,” he said.
“Aerial firefighting will not be able to be used in this area.Commercial aerial spraying operators have already stated they will not be able to carry out crop and pasture spraying in our areas as it would be too dangerous for their pilots to fly in and around the turbine towers.”
Mr Barry also denied turbines were a fire risk. “We have seen fires in wind farms, but they are very rare,” he said.
Caramut farmer and Mortons Lane Wind Farm landholder Gerard Diprose said his property had become safer. “As part of the wind farm plan the developing company had to install a number of fire tanks, which is obviously a positive for my property,” he said.