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Billion dollar windfarm approved

Another 150 turbines will span across the horizon from Lake Bonney near Millicent to Cape Jaffa towards Kingston as part of Infigen Energy’s $1b Woakwine Windfarm.

This follows the decision of Wattle Range Council’s Development Assessment Panel (DAP) who met again last Thursday to consider Infigen Energy’s Woakwine Windfarm proposal.

Taking in three council areas, the development has now received the thumbs up from Wattle Range, Robe and Kingston District councils.

Together with Adelaide based Masterplan principal planner Simon Tonkin, Wattle Range DAP first met on Monday, June 4, to hear nine submissions against the proposal, followed by a response from Infigen development manager Frank Boland.

Panel members include chairman Liz Travers of Naracoorte, Rosemary Kain of Beachport, Cr Rob Dycer, Cr Sharon Cox, Cr Darren O’Halloran (absent from Monday and Thursday’s meetings), Robert Miles of Mount Gambier and Ted Jordon of Mount Gambier.

Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi said yesterday the DAP operated independently of council.

He said the seven members of the DAP, of whom three were councillors, could not be guided by council.

“It is important the public realise the DAP operates under rules established by the State Government,” Mr Gandolfi said.

“The State Government (last November) amended the development plan to shift windfarm developments to Category Two and removed third party appeal rights.

“The council itself has raised concerns regarding the removal of third party appeal rights.

“In addition council recently passed a motion regarding the powers of a minister to introduce an amendment to the plan in the form of an interim plan without public consultation.”

During Monday’s hearing speaker after speaker claimed their concerns had not been resolved by Infigen, and asked who would be responsible for compensation, council or Infigen?

The DAP deferred its meeting until Thursday, June 8, as a result of Mr Boland claiming he had deleted three turbines, and slightly altered the site of others.

In addition to Mr Tonkin, panel members were supported by council’s planning manager John Best, and assistant building surveyor Hayden Cassar.

Before Thursday’s meeting, Mr Best said he could not comment on Senator Nick Xenophon’s warnings to councils to be careful when considering windfarm proposals, for there could be claims for compensation.

Senator Xenophon announced when in Millicent early this year he would be providing legal support to all those adversely affected by turbines.

“That is something I can’t comment on other than there are legal processes for anybody to take if they are aggrieved by a decision council has taken,” Mr Best said.

On Thursday, Mr Tonkin joined the panel from Adelaide via telephone, and the windfarm was once again considered.

By 4.50pm a decision was made in favour of the developer with a series of conditions placed on Infigen regarding roads, transport and noise.

Infigen Energy’s original map showed retired Millicent farmers John and Sue Clarke would be surrounded by 16 turbines, of which eight would be within 1km of their home.

Following council’s DAP decision favouring the developer, Mr Clarke said he was “not surprised”.

Mr Clarke said he would still be surrounded by turbines, with 10 directly blocking the view from their home, including their main living area.

“I don’t think anyone is too surprised by the decision, do you?” Mr Clarke said.