Approval has been granted for the expansion of Waterloo Stage Two wind farm, giving Energy Australia the go-ahead to add six turbines to the Waterloo site and taking its generation capacity to about 129MW (43 turbines).
The decision by the Development Assessment Panel meeting last week is subject to reserved matters and conditions.
Announcing the panel’s decision, presiding member Stephen Hains said assessing the application had not been an easy exercise, especially given the strong views held by the community.
Tensions ran high as Energy Australia and owners of neighbouring properties made passionate and heartfelt representations to the panel.
There was heckling, jeering and cheering as those for and against the project put forward their opinions on the development.
Those against the application cited concerns about erosion, bird life, destruction of Peppermint Box Grassy Woodland, noise, visual amenity, health effects, impact on land value and future restrictions on building as reasons the panel should reject the proposal.
A spokesperson for the Waterloo Concerned Citizen’s Group said they were very disappointed with the panel’s decision.
The group believed there should have been greater consultation with people of Waterloo and Marrabel, and only allowing landowners within two kilometres of the turbines to make representations amounted to gagging the local community.
He said the Waterloo and Marrabel communities were being forgotten in the state government’s push to meet the 30 per cent renewable electricity target and for increased economic development throughout the state.
The group would continue to lobby politicians to examine the impact of wind turbines on local communities and to make changes to planning rules to keep wind farms away from people and wildlife habitats.
Andrew and Jo Allchurch were the only residents who made a representation in favour of the development.
The approval means five turbines will be built on their property.
They said Friday night’s decision was not only a win for the community and local economy, but also a win for wind energy in Australia.
“We have been living next to stage one of the Waterloo Wind Farm for nearly three years and are not affected by any noise or health issues.
“If we honestly felt we were going to be affected, we wouldn’t agree to the development,” Jo Allchurch said.
When asked for his views on the development, Independent member for Frome, Geoff Brock, said the Waterloo wind farm had been in place for some time and the application was for an extension of an existing development rather than a new project.
“No one can change what is already there.
“The application has gone through the required process, and the Development Assessment Panel is independent of the government and council,” he said.
Liberal candidate for Frome, Kendall Jackson, attended the DAP meeting and talked to people in the public gallery during the panel’s deliberation.
She said the Liberal team supported local communities and local farmers should not be unnecessarily disadvantaged.
“We believe there should be adequate distance between people’s homes and wind turbines – five kms from towns and two kms from homes.”
Energy Australia must provide further detailed drawings and building documentation before work can commence, but a spokesperson for the company said they were keen to start sooner rather than later.
The company said the project would create 130 jobs during construction and estimated an additional $2.3 million would flow into the local community.
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