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Legal concerns leave future of wind farm uncertain

The future of the recently approved Green Point wind farm remains uncertain with council concerned that changing legislation could affect development of the project.

Questions have been posed around the chambers at the Grant District Council over developments which have occurred from when the wind farm was initially approved until now.

It’s been more than a decade since the wind farm between Port MacDonnell and the Piccaninnie Ponds was first approved in 2001, but the project continued to be delayed for fear of the endangered orange-bellied parrot.

Since population of the species continued to increase thanks to the development of a conservation area at the Pick Swamp, the proposal of the wind farm resurfaced at a similarly steady rate.

Now that the orange-bellied parrot live in a protected habitat, extensions on the development proposals were no longer necessary.

Grant District Council mayor, Richard Sage, says he moved a motion in council earlier this year that the end of the standing extension would be the last chance to proceed.

Wind farm developers, Wind Prospect, came back seeking approval to build three turbines.

While the initial application was for 24 turbines in 2001, changing legislation has presented concerns over the proximity of wind turbines to homes and townships.

Mayor Sage says changing legislation has made the whole process a confusing one.

“We’ve been calling on the state and federal governments to iron out a lot of the planning issues for some time.

“It’s come to a stage where council is the meat in the sandwich.

“We have legislation we have to adhere to and we can’t refuse an application because we don’t like the look of a proposal,” he said.

That legislation stipulates that there must be a one-kilometre buffer zone between wind turbines and homes.

Also in question is whether landholders who agreed to have a turbine on their property in 2001 still want one.

Mayor Sage concedes there’s still a lot to be resolved.

“It’s fine to give planning consent, but there’s still building consent and approval from landholders,” he said.

And time is tight – only 12 months have been allocated to iron out those creases before conditions of the extension lapses.

Allendale East resident, Jackie Lobesky, says she still fears for the future of the orange-bellied parrots.

“The federal government has put millions of dollars into the habitat for the parrots, why would they put up structures that could harm them and reduce their habitat?,” she queried.