The Kangaroo Island Council and KI Eco Action have joined forces to oppose a State Government edict which makes it easier to build wind farms on Kangaroo Island.
The State government has issued an interim Development Plan Amendment which applies to wind farms statewide and asked for comment by December 13.
It aims “to provide greater clarity for the development of wind farm facilities, by recognising them as an envisaged form of development in some zone with relatively low population densities… and many need to be in prominent locations to take advantage of the wind,” according to a report prepared by the Kangaroo Island Council’s chief executive officer Andrew Boardman for the November meeting of the council.
Many councillors spoke of their concerns about wind farm development on Kangaroo
Island and a letter from KI Eco Action was tabled as late correspondence.
Cr Peter Denholm said that in accordance with the council’s development plan all wind farms should be a category 3 development
(requiring public consultation) not category 2 as proposed in the State Government’s plan
(category 2 development has no right of appeal). He said the government’s plan was a “quickie” and “all development on coast and
conservation zones whould be category 3”.
Bob Huxtable, on behalf of KI Eco Action, asked the council to express its concerns about the change in development status for wind farms, the reduction of setbacks from residences from 2km to 1km and that any wind farms be placed close to existing cable infrastructure.
Cr Deholm said the viability of wind energy on Kangaroo Island was questionable given the island’s low energy needs.
Cr Peter Clements agreed and said evidence from overseas raised issues about breakdown, lifecycle cost and low investment returns.
Cr Graham Walkom said people had “become emotional about how wonderful wind farms are”. He cited issues affecting birds and wildlife and “their failure and unfunded removal issues”.
Cr Walkom warned that if wind farms became easier to build, investors would be attracted to Kangaroo Island , which “puts us at risk of having hundreds if not thousands of these things” with investors offering to upgrade the island’s main power cable to sell power to the mainland.
Cr Malcolm Boxall argued for a bigger buffer zone from residences.
Cr Rosalie Chirgwin said she was also concerned about wind farms in the primary production zones, not just coastal and conservation.
“This is an issue causing civic unrest and resistance (elsewhere).
“I’m not in favour of wind towers on KI and we should send a strong message,” she said.
Mayor Jayne Bates said the council could not stop wind farms but could voice its oppostiton to their classification as category 2.
The council resolved to advise the Minister of its opposition relating to the promotion of wind farms in the Coastal Conservation, Conservation and Water Protection zones on Kangaroo Island and that there be a 2km buffer zone from residences in the Primary Production Zone.
Resident Lara Tilbrook had expressed her concerns about the environmental impacts and fire risks of wind turbines during “Questions from the Gallery”.
Another gallery member, former councillor Scott McDonald, said later that the council resolution was a “landmark decsion” to try to protect coastal zones from developemnt.
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