Angry residents of Allendale East signed a petition on Monday in protest at the development of a wind farm within close range of their properties, vowing to continue to fight for an expired community consultation process on the development to be re-opened.
About 50 residents, who fear their health could be adversely affected by wind turbines, signed the petition during a public forum held at the township’s cricket club.
Landowner and Concerned Residents Group member Paul Manning said the majority of residents were “shocked” to become aware of the potential negative health impact and the “dangerous proximity to their homes and schools”.
“(They) were angered that the (community) consultation process was not open and unbiased,” Mr Manning said.
“(Monday’s) open forum has covered the demographic better than Acciona Energy and the District Council of Grant has undertaken in five years.”
The Concerned Residents Group was formed recently to push for the community consultation process to be re-opened 18 months after residents had the opportunity to make formal submissions.
At the time, dairy farmer Richard Paltridge was the only resident to object to the project, but residents said their apathy had now changed to anger as they now believed the consultation process was “inadequate”.
Mr Paltridge’s appeal against the 46-turbine project is currently before the Environment Resources and Development (ERD) Court in Adelaide.
A member of the Concerned Residents Group, who asked to remain anonymous, said members door-knocked around the area on the weekend.
“The majority of residents said they did not receive proper information from Acciona or council on the development and those who received anything did not understand the repercussions,” he said.
“They believe Acciona pulled the wool over council’s eyes and council did not research the possible impact it could have on the community.
“Council says it’s too late for the community consultation process to be re-opened, but we don’t accept it and we will continue to push for it to be re-opened.”
Speaking at the forum, Dr Sarah Laurie, medical director of the Waubra Foundation, warned the close proximity of turbines to many of the residents’ homes and Allendale East Primary School was a major health concern.
According to proposed development plans, turbines will be located within 750m of buildings.
Dr Laurie said numerous affidavits signed by residents who lived within 3km of turbines in Mount Bryan proved the repetitive sound of turbines caused sleep depravation, depression, high blood pressure and the occurrence of bed wetting in children.
Grant District Mayor Richard Sage told The Border Watch, after meeting with Dr Laurie yesterday, that council had “no control over the development anymore”.
“The planning appeal process is happening in court — council has no jurisdiction over the appeal in court,” he said.
However, Mr Sage said as a planning authority, council could have stopped the development before it went to court.
“Council could have stopped it, but health issues were not on the radar at the time,” he said.
“Now that the health issues are out in the open, we can’t dig into it because it’s in court.”
Mr Sage said council and Acciona Energy had met all the requirements regarding the community consultation process, but “we are prepared to take it on the chin if we did something wrong”.