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Developer defends extensive consultation  

Credit:  The Border Watch, 29 December 2010 ~~

More than 18 months after Allendale East residents had their chance to officially oppose a 47-turbine wind farm near their properties, the town is suddenly experiencing an upwelling of angry residents who oppose the proposed development.

“Too late,” is the response from developer Acciona Energy and Grant District Council, claiming a comprehensive 12-month community consultation process was undertaken.

“This included six newsletters and information flyers distributed to all residents, two community information days and a community information line,” a spokesman for Acciona Energy told The Border Watch.

“This process ran in conjunction with the District Council of Grant’s planning process. As part of this, the council contacted every resident and landholder in the area and presented all residents with an opportunity to comment on the wind farm proposal.”

Acciona Energy’s spokesman said the wind farm developer intended to be part of the local community for the long-term and to achieve this goal, they chose to operate in an “open, respectful and fair” manner.

Acciona Energy monitored the wind in Allendale East for three years before beginning a consultation process with the community. An information session was held at the Allendale East Public Hall last year in June, during which the proposed development was outlined.

A constant flow of people visited the town hall for the information day and those who spoke to The Border Watch said they were keen to learn more and expected the project would deliver significant benefits to the region.

Acciona Energy development director Andrew Thomson declined to confirm at the meeting how much farmers would be paid for use of their land to host towers, but said it was significant and negotiations were continuing with 11 landholders involved.

He said landholders would reap rewards from agreements with the company, while the towers would have little interference with ongoing farming.

“Agriculture is such an uncertain business with commodity prices changing all the time and the seasons up and down, so a reliable revenue stream is always welcome and this leaves a small footprint,” he said.

Mr Thomson said extensive specialist studies were well under way for various aspects of the project and the final design had been completed, with the 70.5MW wind farm expected to produce enough green power for 43,000 households, representing 1.5pc of the state’s energy needs.

Grant District Council gave its support to the project and approved Acciona’s application.

In October, 2009, Allendale East dairy farmer Richard Paltridge was the only resident who publicly voiced his objection to the project. Mr Paltridge made a submission to Grant District Council in objection to the wind farm development and after a compromise agreement could not be reached a few months later, the appeal was referred to the Adelaide Environment, Resource and Development Court.

The project is temporarily on hold pending the outcome of the court case.

Source:  The Border Watch, 29 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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