A new gust of contention has swept over the border fuelling the on-going wind debate, after new legislation was passed in Victoria yesterday limiting the construction of wind farms in proximity to existing dwellings and regional centres.
The Victorian State Government has outlined no-go zones for the establishment of wind farms in various locations around the State, including the Great Ocean Road and Wilsons Promontory, but South Australia has so far declined to jump on board.
SA Greens’ MP Mark Parnell said it is not the right way to go.
“We need a smarter planning approach and we need to continue to work with wind companies to make sure they listen to local communities,” he said.
Under new legislation in Victoria, the policy stops the construction of wind turbines within two-kilometres of houses, without the consent of the owner of the home as well as blocking developments within five-kilometres of major regional centres.
The South East has recently been going through its own paces since the development of a 46-turbine wind farm in Allendale East was upheld by the courts based on visual amenity.
Developers Acciona Energy have fronted up to address the Allendale East community this week in a series of meetings as they await their Supreme Court challenge in which they are appealing the decision.
Australia’s first community owned wind farm known as Hepburn Wind was established in Daylesford, Victoria this year in which the two turbines generate the equivalent amount of electricity used by the population of 2500.
Hepburn Wind Deputy Chair Kate Redwood said while the new legislation would not affect them, the publicity highlighting health concerns had prompted the occasional complaint.
“We have a very robust complaints system and so far we’ve had five complaints. Two about interrupted television reception, three around noise,” she said.
The Daylesford community decided collectively to go down the alternative energy route about two years ago with the project initiated by a series of discussions outlining the benefits it would deliver to the community.
The Waubra foundation has been instrumental in Australia trying to uncover health problems relating to wind turbines, however so far its findings are considered to be unfounded.
Redwood said she welcomed the research by Waubra, but believed it would not deliver results.
“There’s no proof. We are very happy to go along with any research into health impacts because we don’t believe there is any,” she said,
Despite the on-going battle in Allendale East, South Australia has largely welcomed wind farms throughout the state not only by land owners but by those that see the benefits of alternative energy sources.
However, Allendale looks set to come to a head this week when Acciona Energy confronts the community on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Allendale East resident Jackie Lowe said while health impacts remained a major concern to her, so did maintaining the natural landscape.
“There is no proof either way but the Senate inquiry is a warning.
“Doctors in the area are starting to state that they can see more cases with the same symptoms.
“We would like what the Victorian government has, as it’s no use to have an environment if you can’t live in it,” she said.
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