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Blades are out in wind farm fight

Opponents of a $175 million South-East wind farm development fear the State Government’s proposed new wind turbine regulations favour developers.

Residents battling the planned wind farm – which would see 46 wind turbines built 1km from 15 homes and 2km from 60 homes at Allendale East – have slammed the Government’s new guidelines, as local community leaders call on the public to voice their concerns.

Under the proposed changes released last month – now open for community feedback – wind farms would be able to be built 1km from houses and 2km from towns.

The changes would also give wind farms development status which denies opposing residents the right to appeal if given the green light by council planners.

Eight Mile Creek dairy farmer Richard Paltridge – who in June stopped Acciona Energy’s proposal for the Allendale East project after he fought its approval in the Environment, Resources and Development Court – said the new guidelines would take away his “democratic right” by denying his right to appeal.

“It is extremely disappointing that after having spent more than $100,000 to overturn the decision, that the Government seeks to change the rules by deeming wind farms to be appropriately managed if they are 1km away from residences,” Mr Paltridge said.

Mayors Peter Gandolfi, of Wattle Range Council, and Richard Sage, of Grant Council, both flagged concerns the new planning guidelines were “unbalanced”.

“It will remove the ability of residents to appeal the development,” Mr Gandolfi said.

“The council’s Development Assessment Panel is bound by these guidelines, so if the development sits within them, it will generally be approved.

“Yet if it gets knocked back the developer has the right to appeal the decision – it’s moving the balance away from residents.”

Mr Gandolfi said while he believed wind farms were generally accepted within his council because it helped supplement farmers’ incomes, he hoped the Government would pay attention to residents’ feedback.

“My personal view is we need to ensure wind farms are treated like any other industrial development and ensure there is a balance of rights,” he said.

“I bet you wouldn’t see a wind turbine on the side of Mt Lofty, would you, and I’m sure that location would be a very good one to catch wind.”

Mt Gambier MP Don Pegler urged South-East residents to provide feedback about the new guidelines during the consultation period.

“It is essential that landholders put in a submission,” he said. “I’m not against wind farms but these guidelines are very weighted in favour of wind farm developers.”

“A lot of people are just starting to realise they could have wind farms imposed on them where they feel it is not appropriate.

“If there are enough submissions they will have an influence.”

Planning Minister John Rau said the changes were designed to “strike a balance by setting new restrictions for distances between wind farm developments and dwellings, while providing new levels of assurance for investors”.

“The Government will comprehensively assess feedback from all parties and make appropriate decisions flowing from that assessment.”

Submissions on the Development Plan Amendment must be lodged by December 13, email to dpac@sa.gov.au.