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Turbine proposal spark Yorke Peninsula protest

Farmers on the Yorke Peninsula have rejected offers to build wind turbines on their land.

More than 40 landholders in the Sandilands, Pine Point and Curramulka area have instead formed a community group to lobby for a change in legislation covering the proposed development.

Spokesperson Tania Stock, Sandilands, said the group wanted prime agricultural land to be protected from any potential restrictions created by the renewable energy infrastructure.

This included aerial spray contractors prevented from flying within 500 metres of turbines, stubble burn-offs being compromised, the siting of associated infrastructure – such as transmission lines and sub-stations – interference with GPS technology and television reception, and a lack of conclusive research surrounding health issues associated with low- frequency emissions.

“The South Australian government has not reviewed any regulation or policy with regard to wind farms since 2003,” Mrs Stock said.

“Therefore, there is very little protection for farmers in legislation, and that’s why we want to see similar legislation to what’s been adopted in Victoria and is being considered by New South Wales.”

Victorian legislation includes 2-kilometre setbacks from residential buildings, 5km setbacks from rural townships, and greater protection for national parks and tourism areas.

The Ceres Project on YP would involve 180 turbines being built at a cost of $1.3 billion to supply electricity to more than 200,000 houses across the Gulf St Vincent.

Mrs Stock said the group was not opposed to wind farms in general, but wanted the impact on prime agricultural land to be a major consideration in their placement.

A spokesperson for State Urban Development and Planning Minister John Rau said a development application for the project had yet to be lodged.

He said for projects of more than $4 million the Development Assessment Commission would place advertisements in newspapers inviting submissions.

“This would be the point at which the impact on aerial spraying would be drawn to the attention of the commission,” he said.

“People making submissions may also be afforded the opportunity of appearing before the commission.

“And in relation to noise, the National Health and Medical Research Council has advised there are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines.”

Opposition Urban Development and Planning spokesperson David Ridgway said the Liberal Party was looking at Vic and NSW wind farm policy and would come up with its own closer to the State election.

“There is a move to have some rules and regulations around wind farm development and we think it makes sense,” he said.

“But we won’t be in a position to implement that for another 2.5 years, so we’re taking our time, looking at what they’re doing in other states in consideration of our own State and what is the best outcome for the community.”

Suzlon Energy Australia chief executive Dan Hansen said the company was working with local aerial and land spraying company Aerotech to ensure the wind farm had a minimal impact on agricultural practices.

“Suzlon will engage with Aerotech, the relevant regulatory bodies and independent assessor through the wind farm design phase over the next two years,” he said.

Mr Hansen said 90 per cent of landowners approached had embraced the wind farm. He claimed more than 30 landowners were ‘on board’.

*Full report in Stock Journal, September 29 issue, 2011.