State Government plans to reform the wind power industry will favour investors, according to the LGA.
In a submission to the Government’s consultation process for the proposed reforms, the Local Government Association is worried residents living on rural properties will be denied the same appeal rights against future wind farm developments that residents living in townships have.
The interim development plan, announced in October, introduced a 1km buffer between new wind farms and residential areas but removed the right of third parties to appeal against planning approval given to wind farms located more than 2km from the borders of country towns.
According to the peak local government body, this means a resident living in a township would have the right to make representations and appeal against a development located up to 2km away.
However, a resident living outside a township but not an adjoining property owner to the proposed development has no right to object.
“This inequitable approach is not acceptable as all affected residents should enjoy the same rights to participate in the planning process,” the submission said.
The LGA also said present regulations that only require notice to be given to adjoining land owners in effect “lock out” from the planning process any person that is not an adjoining neighbour.
The LGA warned “South Australian communities have little appetite for planning processes that clearly favour the interests of investors over the interests of local communities”.
Acting LGA chief executive Cate Atkinson said yesterday that the Government was in effect establishing two different standards of notification, for people living in townships and those in rural areas.
“We don’t think this is equitable,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it is a single resident or a group of residents – community is one.”
SA Law Society president Ralph Bonig said it was another example of where state planning laws needed an overhaul. “I think that the whole proposal highlights that we’re starting to produce individual rights depending on the individual development,” he said.
Planning Minister John Rau said yesterday the Government would consider all submissions carefully before finalising its proposals.
“The reforms are designed to strengthen local council decision-making by restricting the access of wind farm developers to State Government Crown development assessment processes,” Mr Rau said.
On Thursday Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond vowed to exclude wind farms within 2km of any home. She said she wanted to “protect” residents from any possible economic, social or health effects caused by wind turbines.
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