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Farmer warns wind farm fight not over

Eight Mile Creek farmer Richard Paltridge has vowed to continue his fight against the wind farm development near his property, despite “undemocratic” proposed changes to the state’s development plan on wind farms.

Mr Paltridge has spent well over $100,000 in legal fees to overturn the approval of the development in the Environment, Resources and Development Court.

However, the proposed changes by the government, which include denying people the right to appeal against approved wind farm developments, appear set to overrule the court’s decision to halt the development, once changes are made to the plan.

Wind farm developer Acciona Energy will lodge a new application for the wind farm to go ahead under the proposed changes.

But Mr Paltridge said it was undemocratic to deny people the right to appeal against wind farm developments.

“It is undemocratic and what you would expect from a dictatorship,” he said.

“It is completely improper for a government to seek to overturn the very detailed and considered opinion of the specialist ERD Court on the visual impact of this wind farm.

“I will take whatever steps necessary to overturn any unfavourable decision, including challenging the matter by way of judicial review proceedings in the Supreme Court.

“I will challenge the validity of the development plan amendment, together with any further action that my family and I might be advised to take.”

Mr Paltridge said he was also opposed to the new proposed distances of 1km between turbines and dwellings and 2km between turbines and townships.

“In my particular instance, the nearest turbine would be 850m away,” he said.

“An additional 150m away will not have a substantial decrease in the visual impact of the wind farm – the same comment applies to a number of other dwellings which are sited from as little as 750m away from the nearest turbines to a little over 1km away.”

Mr Paltridge said the development plan amendments were inconsistent with the expert finding of the ERD Court that the wind farm should not be established at Allendale East and Eight Mile Creek because of its visual impact.

“No development plan deeming provision can overcome that express finding,” he said.

“In my opinion, the development plan amendment should immediately be revoked.”

Although very disappointed by the proposed changes, Mr Paltridge said it came as no surprise as the ruling of the ERD Court against the development was mentioned in parliament the following day.

“It indicated that the (former) Premier (Mike Rann) was looking at ways to ‘overcome’ the effect of the ERD Court decision,” he said.

Shortly after, Acciona lodged an appeal to the Supreme Court, but when no further action was taken, Mr Paltridge became increasingly concerned.

“I believe something was happening behind closed doors,” he said.

“Not surprisingly, on October 19, the day before Mr Rann completed his term as premier, the government gazetted a statewide development plan amendment dealing with wind farms – the effect of the plan will be catastrophic as far as I am concerned.”