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Kicking into the wind  

Credit:  MICHELLE O'RIELLY | Barossa & Light Herald | www.barossaherald.com.au 3 July 2012 ~~

Residents intend to fight against an application lodged with the state’s Development Assessment Commission for a wind farm to be developed at Keyneton.

Victorian-based company Pacific Hydro publicly announced its intention for the development 12 months ago.

Residents opposing the development say they will continue their stance, ‘we don’t want this development’. One Keyneton resident and landholder Hiedi Smith said, “If it is approved and negative impacts are felt, then the developer and host landholders have been warned that we will take action, and this could include class action”.

On Monday, June 25 Pacific Hydro’s comprehensive submission, involving about 800 pages, was officially lodged. Submissions, for or against the development, will be called for by the DAC via public notices in the coming weeks, which will then allow the public 15 working days to respond.

The company’s plans include spending $242million on the placement of 42 industrial wind turbines on the Sedan Hill ridgeline from Keyneton to Eden Valley. This development is expected to produce 105MW and is estimated to generate electricity for the next 25 to 30 years.

Six landholders, who have agreed to host wind turbines on their properties, were believed to have consulted with Pacific Hydro as early as 10 years ago. It is also understood one Keyneton landholder had contacted Pacific Hydro more than a decade ago seeking their support in developing a wind farm in the area. These residents continue their silence.

For the past year a community group of about 50 members, working under the Eastern Mt Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardian Inc (EMLRLG), has spent their time and their own resources to raise awareness about concerns associated with these developments and for the common aim to stop Keyneton wind farm.

Residents opposing the project continue to maintain a variety of concerns including, environment, turbine setback/proximity, visual impact, health and wellbeing, noise and acoustics, flicker, micro climates, fire safety, road and safety, Aboriginal/cultural sacred sites, property sale impact, social community impact and efficiency and economics.

While these issues are highlighted within Pacific Hydro’s application, those opposing the development say not enough evidence supports the company’s claims or position.

Keyneton resident and landholder Hiedi Smith said the past 12 months has been an emotional and mental strain for residents.

She said from a community perspective, the development has left a negative impact on the community. Mrs Smith explained relationships within the communities have been broken, as is the case with other communities living with industrial turbine developments at either the proposal or operating stage. Also, she said the uncertainty caused by the proposal could see numbers dwindle at the Keyneton Primary School and throughout the affected communities in general.

She said from an environmental view, “From the cradle to the grave we don’t know how much we are saving on wind power energy and the independent studies need to be done before developments are allowed to continue. The intention of wind power is good, yet the intention is lost in the industrialisation of it”.

Mrs Smith added, “I believe if we truly valued our farmers for their invaluable worth of producing our food they may not be tempted by such developments. Farming has historically shown land degradation impacts, something current landholders are working to repair, and it would be a disaster to allow another form of environmental damage to occur,” she said.

Chairperson of EMLRLG Tony Walker said, “On plain grounds, we, as a society, don’t put waste dumps near hospitals or abattoirs within residential areas because we recognise that they don’t belong together,” he said.

“It seems the principles for wind turbines are overlooked.”

He added, a development, such as the wind farm at Keyneton, “it is a disaster and is in the wrong place”.

Members of EMLRLG urge individuals to have their say on the development and remind the public there is no right of appeal.

The public can access a community submission guide template by visiting the EMLRLG Inc. site: http://sites.google.com/site/stop keynetonwindfarm.

Meanwhile, Pacific Hydro maintains, works for the development will involve about 500 individuals over a 24-month period.

The company’s spokesperson Lane Crockett said, “We endeavour to employ as many directly local (people) as possible. If they cannot supply then this would be extended further in SA”.

Mr Crockett said all turbines will be the same height with a maximum blade tip height of 145.5m.

The company said the life span of the wind farm is 25 to 30 years and then it becomes decommissioned.

Currently, Pacific Hydro has six operating wind farms within Australia with five in Victoria and one in Clements Gap, near Port Pirie. This is the first time, within the company’s 20-year history; it has come up against a lengthy fight from residents.

To read more about the application, visit pacifichydro.com.au and click on the word ‘projects’ in the header bar to find ‘Keyneton wind farm project’.

Source:  MICHELLE O'RIELLY | Barossa & Light Herald | www.barossaherald.com.au 3 July 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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