The renewable energy industry says wind farm reforms in South Australia will strike the right balance between supporting clean energy and giving communities a voice in the planning process.
The SA Government says $1.8 billion of investment in wind farms can be unlocked by its planning changes.
Local government will be reinstated as the key authority for assessing planning applications for wind farms.
Planning Minister John Rau says if any problems arise, councils will be able to refer matters to the Development Assessment Commission.
Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh says the changes will give the industry confidence.
“There has been a lot of uncertainty because of court cases that have been running for some of the development proposals,” he said.
“The announcement makes it more certain for the industry in terms of the progress of planning developments in South Australia.
“Now wind turbine developers will effectively be going though the local council, whereas before they were using the State Government process that had no real community engagement.”
An advocacy group for wind farm opponents thinks the changes fail to support people who suffer health effects from the noise created by turbines.
The Government says there will be a one-kilometre buffer between houses and wind farms.
But Sarah Laurie of the Waubra Foundation says people up to 10 kilometres away have reported their health being affected.
“The audible noise effect can extend way out beyond one kilometre and people’s sleep can be disturbed,” she said.
“We know that chronic, severe sleep deprivation such as is being experienced by some people is very bad for your health, so we don’t think that one kilometre is nearly enough.”
Family First MP Robert Brokenshire says leaving the decision-making entirely to councils is a flawed move.
“If the local Development Assessment Panels are going to have to take on a bigger role, there’s a fair chance they’re either going to own or know someone or neighbour someone who’s putting in an application,” he said.
“I’m not sure that’s going to achieve the effect the Government are trying to see in this amendment.”
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