Eyre Peninsula needs to start planning now to avoid potential health problems and land value losses caused by wind farms, according to the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association (EPLGA).
With the state govenment announcing the potential for another 5000 wind turbines to be set up on Eyre Peninsula, generating 10,000 megawatts of power, the EPLGA wants the government to review its wind farm planning framework.
EPLGA chief executive officer Diana Laube made a submission to the national Senate Inquiry into the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms following her request to Planning SA for an urgent planning review.
She said there had been no issues with the two local wind farms at Mount Millar and Cathedral Rocks comprising 68 turbines, however in other areas of the country concerns had been expressed on health and safety issues, particularly in places where dozens of turbines were in close proximity to homes.
Some pilots had queried the distance the turbulence or “wake plume effect” extends from rows of turbines that could seriously affect low-flying light aircraft.
Another issue was doctors’ concerns about the cluster of ailments known as wind turbine syndrome – sensitivity to the low frequency vibration experienced by people living close to turbines.
“While no conclusive link has yet been established, a more thorough investigation of wind turbine syndrome needs to occur as a priority to determine if a buffer distance between a home and a turbine is needed,” she said.
“Anecdotal information suggests a number of South Australians may already be suffering.”
Complaints that land has been devalued had arisen in other communities.
“For planning authorities, many of the adverse reactions, often from a small number of residents, don’t really emerge until the development is in place.
“The sheer scale of modern turbines, coupled with the aggregation of numbers, is causing problems.”
The EPLGA is a co-signatory to the Climate Change Sector Agreement with the state government, and committed to renewable energy production.
“We just need to get the planning right so that our residents benefit from wind farms and are not exposed to the issues that are arising elsewhere where there is an aggregation of turbines.”
State commissioner for renewable energy Tim O’Loughlin said the state government’s land use planning framework along with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) wind thresholds covered the requirements for a safe standard distance.
“The Green Grid analysis includes consideration of adequate separation of wind farms from population centres,” he said.
“If someone brings along evidence to say it’s not sufficient, the government will consider it.”
EPA noise standards were last updated in 2009, and would be continually updated.
He said it was likely policy advice rather than legislation would come from the inquiry.
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