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Plan to cut down on wind farm noise

The State Government will today unveil its plan to end investor uncertainty for new wind farms.

It also aims to protect residential areas from turbine noise.

An interim development plan will be published today confirming councils as the premier planning bodies but introducing a 1km barrier between new farms and residential areas.

Premier Mike Rann said the proposed barrier – which could be removed if both parties agreed – would overcome concerns about turbine noise.

“The industry has been plagued by uncertainty following a court decision to uphold an objection on visual amenity grounds, and the Victorian Government’s crackdown on wind-power investment,” he said.

“As more than half of Australia’s wind farm investment is in South Australia, we have a national responsibility to take the lead in reforming policy to respect the legitimate interests of both the industry and local communities.”

The Government estimates the move will unlock another $1.8 million in infrastructure investment and skew investment away from populated areas.

The package will also remove the right of third parties to appeal planning approval granted to wind farms located more than 2 km from country town borders.

The changes, which will not affect existing projects, effectively mirror Victorian guidelines, although they allow developments closer to residences without agreement.

A spokesman for AGL – which has the right to develop 164 turbines across three South Australian sites – said the scheme would cement community goodwill by backing local government planning processes.

“AGL has always progressed its wind farm applications through the local council planning regime route in order for the local community to fully participate in the development process,” he said.

Energy project financier Investec Bank said the clarity provided by the reforms would likely translate into more investment in the sector by cutting risk.

“Finding an appropriate balance between the needs of developers and other stakeholders is a critical step in solving the state’s future energy demands,” state commercial director Mark Headland said.