The fate of a massive power station on the Yorke Peninsula – with 199 generators, by far the biggest wind farm ever proposed in Australia – should be left to Parliament.
Shadow Planning Minister David Ridgway, who’s chairing an Upper House investigation into the social, economic and environmental effects of wind farms, said the decision was too important to be left to sectional interests.
“South Australia has more wind farms than any other state. In fact we have more than all the other states put together,” Mr Ridgway said.
“But we’re rushing headlong into a $1.3 billion decision with little idea of the consequences. We could end up with much more expensive power even as middle-income South Australians struggle to pay their electricity bills and low-income South Australians, who can’t pay them at all, are having their electricity disconnected.
“For the first time in history, SA has a parliamentary inquiry with five different political parties and luckily it’s looking into these very issues.
“The committee is investigating the link between wind farms and power prices as well as the minimum distance developers should leave between their turbines and the nearest house.
“Developers can’t legally build power stations so close to homes in Victoria or NSW.”
SA Liberal policy is to protect homeowners against unwanted turbines two kilometres from their home. Turbines proposed on Yorke Peninsula would be just 1,300 metres from people’s bedrooms.
“We should have Australia-wide standards so that developers can’t play one state off against the other to see who’ll accept the lowest environmental standards,” Mr Ridgway said.
“Any industrial development covering 800 square kilometres now devoted to tourism and agriculture has all sorts of major ramifications.
“The parliamentary committee is looking at the need for a peer-reviewed academic study on the impacts of wind generators and the capacity of existing infrastructure to cope with increased wind power.
“Good policy depends on getting accurate information. The inquiry will get to the truth. It’s independent, it’s already underway and it’s got 155 submissions so far.
“Labor is on the verge of making the same mistake it did with marine parks.
“That was a complete debacle. It could have been avoided if Labor had listened to Parliament.
“The findings of the Parliamentary inquiry must reign supreme.
“This inquiry is unique in that it is not dominated by Government, Opposition or a single minor party.
“Instead it has Liberal, Labor, Family First, the Greens and No Pokies members.
“Labor must learn not to be afraid of the truth, which is what this parliamentary committee is all about. We need to know what we’re getting ourselves into financially, environmentally and socially.
“For example, what are the environmental effects of trenching or tunneling through or under the Port Julia reef or the St Kilda wetlands? What are the effects on aerial spraying, firefighting, loss of amenity, flicker shadow or noise?
“I genuinely urge the Premier not to rush ahead and usurp the Parliamentary committee,” Mr Ridgway said.
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