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Metro delays decision on wind turbine farm

Granting special consent to pave the way for the region’s first wind farm has been put on ice.

A metro council committee yesterday withheld its approval for the Blue Horizon Bay project, which has met with vehement opposition from local residents. Developers had hoped construction would start in August.

Argument for the consent was presented by the company behind the project, Metrowind, as well as Advocate Graham Richards.

But human settlements portfolio committee councillors decided to refer a decision back to various metro departments for a ruling on whether of not the land earmarked for the project needed to be rezoned before construction began.

Richards, representing Metrowind, said it was within the framework of the land – zoned agricultural 1 – to house the nine-turbine wind farm.

This, he said, was allowed under the “service trade” provision which was incorporated under the agricultural 1 zoning regulations.

In a presentation, developer Don McGillivray said the project would be a R500-million investment boost for the region.

It would generate 5% of the metro’s current Eskom power demand, which was half of the city’s target for renewable energy usage by 2013.

“About R42-million will be invested in communities around the farm over the 20-year life span of the project,” McGillivray said. Commitments to funding had been received from Standard Bank, Old Mutual, and the Development Bank of SA.

But councillors questioned why the human settlements directorate had failed to get legal opinion on whether or not the wind farm land should be rezoned – a lengthy process – from someone other than Richards.

Rano Kayser (COPE) said: “We are sitting with 56 objections, some of which are coming through legal firms.” Provincial government was in the process of allowing renewable energy projects to be constructed on land zoned for agriculture, but this was not yet law, he said.

“We can’t approve anything which is illegal and subject ourselves to litigation,” Kayser said.