The State Government’s proposed wind farm planning reforms are undemocratic, according to protesters and politicians who rallied at Parliament House on Tuesday.
The Statewide Wind Farms Development Planning Amendment supports changes that would deny landholders in sparsely populated areas the right to appeal against turbines built as close as a kilometre to their homes on an adjacent property.
Only those living in a rural township or community zones, would have the right to appeal against a planned development which, under the new rules, would have to be situated at least 2km from a town’s boundary.
This has resulted in fierce criticism from farmers across the State and brought more than 60 people to the city to protest. Ardrossan farmer James Vandepeer said the rules had ramifications for crop dusting and fire bombing because planes would be prevented from flying in close vicinity to turbines.
He said the right to appeal must remain. Mr Vandapeer also wanted guidelines put in place to prevent wind farms being located on prime agricultural land.
“We, as a State, can continue to lead Australia in terms of green energy, but when ideology and a passion for green development take precedence over proper community consultation and due planning process, costly mistakes are made,” he said.
“We believe better choices can be made in terms of locating wind farms.”
Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians chairman Tony Walker, who organised the rally, said it was the right of South Australians to object to new developments in their area.
“We live in a State where we have a long and proud history of freedoms, which have been ahead of the rest of the world,” he said.
“This legislation seeks to remove basic freedoms that are present in every democracy. It’s just not on.”
Several politicians also spoke at the rally, including Opposition Urban Develop-ment and Planning spokesperson David Ridgway and Family First MLC Robert Brokenshire.
Mr Ridgway said he had visited the YP and was concerned that under Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia guidelines pilots would not be able to fly within 500 metres of turbines, or within 3km if they were approaching them head-on.
“That’s why you’ve got to have those third party appeal rights, so it actually gives people who will be affected the chance to say, well hang on, let’s have a look at this and make sure I’m not going to suffer,” he said.
“My bottomline principle is what you do on your property should not impact on your neighbour’s property.”
Mr Brokenshire said people had always had a right to submit feedback to a planning proposal and the new rules would override them with amendments that were “undemocratic and unfair”.
State Minister for Planning John Rau said the reforms would reinstate local councils as the key authorities for assessing wind farms, and move investment away from populated areas.
He said they would unlock $1.8 billion in wind farm investment – presently on hold because of the reform process – and give greater certainty and consistency to investors.
“The reforms aim to balance the interest of the entire community in having investment in green energy while protecting the interests of individuals and communities immediately adjacent to proposed developments,” he said.
Following the rally, protesters attended the first of four public consultation meetings, hosted by the Development Policy Advisory Committee where the new rules were outlined and members of the public were given a chance to respond verbally.
*Full report in Stock Journal, January 19 issue, 2012.
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