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Wind farm observations made

Greater consideration to placement and noise standard for new wind energy developments in SA were highlighted by Greens MP Mark Parnell after his one night stay at a wind farm in the state’s mid north.

This week Mr Parnell, both a member of the Legislative Council and the parliamentary inquiry into wind farms, pitched his tent – camping at the Waterloo wind farm, 30km south-east of Clare.

He wanted to experience the noise conditions described to him by a small group of residents, against the 37 turbine development, after they invited him to the area to for a chat.

“It was my idea to sleep the night to open myself to all the possibilities,” he said.

Other than encountering ground vibrations and hearing groaning sounds from the turbines, Mr Parnell told Fairfax he “slept like a baby”.

However he said he doesn’t doubt some residents are “experiencing lack of sleep and buzzing sounds in their heads”.

Mr Parnell explained the problem lies within medical evidence proving these symptoms are caused by these wind developments.

“The approach I’m taking as a Greens MP is we need more renewable energy not less.”

However he said from a planning point of view, developers need to get the location right in order to minimise the impacts on surrounding communities.

As an example, Mr Parnell highlighted Victoria with its exclusion zoning for similar developments.

For noise emissions he said, “The normal approach would be to get the Environmental Protection Authority to set a noise standard, ensuring operators comply”.

About 75 homes are believed to be located within a 5km radius of the Waterloo wind farm which began operating in October 2010.

Its developers, Energy Australia, say the project met strict government planning guidelines which were put in place by local and state authorities.

A spokeswoman from the company said, “We have monitored Waterloo’s noise levels to ensure they meet the standards set by the South Australian EPA”.

“Previous compliance tests have found that Waterloo is operating below required noise levels,” she said.

Mr Parnell said these developments are disruptive but was convinced moratoriums and attempts to stop wind farm developments is not the way to go.

From his visit Mr Parnell found some people didn’t have a problem with the wind farm and there wasn’t an expectation it would be closed down as a result of his stay.