The highly controversial wind farm at Allendale East will not go ahead.
Wind farm developer Acciona Energy has announced it would not proceed with a new application for the 46-turbine proposed development, citing financial reasons for its decision.
“After detailed investigations over a number of years, Acciona has made a decision that the wind farm was not commercially viable,” a statement from the wind farm developer said.
“Acciona would like to thank the Allendale East project landholders and the local community for their input and support over a number of years.
“Acciona’s decision to not proceed with the Allendale East wind farm has no bearing on the company’s other development projects.”
The news comes 18 months after Eight Mile Creek dairy farmer Richard Paltridge successfully appealed in the state’s Environment, Resources and Development Court against the approval of the wind farm by Grant District Council’s independent planning assessors.
The landmark court ruling, which halted the $175m project on private farmland stretching from Allendale East to Eight Mile Creek, was believed to be the first time a court in Australia had upheld an appeal against wind farms based on visual amenity.
However, a few months later changes to the state’s Wind Farm Development Plan Amendment made it possible for Acciona to lodge a new application and after consideration the developer notified Grant Council this week of its decision to not reapply.
Mr Paltridge, who has spent well over $100,000 in court costs in his battle against the wind farm, was overjoyed when he heard the wind farm was shelved.
“It is the best bit of news I have received in a very long time,” he said.
The Waubra Foundation’s Sarah Laurie, who supported Mr Paltridge in his fight, said Acciona “made a wise decision”.
“There was always a concern with too many large turbines too close to homes that would, on the basis of existing knowledge, have led to serious health issues and home abandonment as has happened at Acciona’s Waubra wind farm development and other multiple wind farms around Australia,” she said.
Dr Laurie praised Allendale East and Eight Mile Creek landholders who rallied behind Mr Paltridge in the past few years to stop the development.
“I am absolutely delighted for the residents,” she said, adding that their public show of protest could have played a big role in the final outcome.
“A well-informed community makes a big difference to the level of informed debate within a community.”
But Eight Mile Creek landowner Anthony McKinnon, who would have earned $36,000 a year for hosting four turbines on his property, said he was disappointed.
Before the development was halted in court, Acciona agreed to pay Mr McKinnon and 10 other landowners $9000 per turbine annually for 25 years.
“I don’t know why Acciona didn’t want to push through with it,” he said.
“It seems they did not like the opposition of others and when the pressure was on they pulled the pin.”
Mr McKinnon said he was also disappointed in people in the community who continuously opposed development in the region.
“The district is held back by people who don’t want progress,” he said.
“Milk prices are low, the timber industry is in turmoil and the construction industry is struggling.
“I believe the wind farm could have been one of the best things for this region because they would have invested millions of dollars into the community.
“The wind has not stopped blowing in the region since they started talking about the wind farm, so not to harvest that resource is beyond me.”
The Allendale East wind farm is the second proposed wind farm development to be dumped in the region in recent times following a decision by Wind Prospect to not proceed with the Green Point Wind Farm near Piccaninnie Ponds.
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