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Community members are being heard

One of the Legislative Council’s most far-reaching inquiries will visit the Clare Valley today to hear evidence for and against wind-driven power stations.

The committee is investigating the economic, social and health effects of wind-driven power stations, which were once universally seen as clean and green but are now meeting increased community resistance.

“South Australia has both the highest penetration of wind power in Australia and about the most expensive electricity in the developed world,” committee chair David Ridgway said.

“This committee is finding out if there’s a link between the proliferation of wind-driven power stations and electricity prices.

“It’s also looking at the social and health effects of these power stations. Landholders and neighbours claim they’re unsightly, noisy and a danger to aerial fire-fighting and cropping.”

On Wednesday and Thursday, the Committee will visit the Clare Valley to head a dozen submissions from the council, landholders and community groups.

Three of the committee members – David Ridgway, Mark Parnell and Russell Wortley – are going to spend Wednesday night in an abandoned house at Waterloo south-east of Clare in the shadow of one of these power stations.

The owner of the house says he was driven out by the nearby turbines, complaining about the serious effects on his health.

“So we’re going to experience what he experienced,” Mr Ridgway said.

“It could be like car sickness, which affects one person but not another.” “The least we should do is experience it for ourselves and see if we are impacted by the claimed disturbances.”

Other residents have complained about poor television reception since the turbines were installed, possibly due to electrical interference.

“Our goals are to undertake planning and set guidelines for what is acceptable for communities near wind turbines,” Mr Ridgway said.

“Also give communities some acknowledgement that we are listening to their concerns.

“I hope the committee will be in a position to conclude its report by the end of this year,” Mr Ridgway said.

Another issue the Legislative Council has become aware of is the value of property near wind turbines.

In a situation in Victoria, property next to a wind farm had lost value up to 30 per cent.

“We need to look at the impact on neighbours and if their property is going to be worth less because of wind farms.”

John Voumard of Mannanarie Farm, 17km north of Jamestown, is against the implementation of wind farms on environmental grounds.

“They have a significant industrial footprint on the areas landscape,” Mr Voumard said.

“Also, we have a large population of pygmy blue tongue lizards in the area and no studies have been done in regard to the impact on them.

“There is also the visual impact on the landscape and the fact that South Australia has one of the highest retail electricity costs in the world because of the wind turbines.”

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council Mayor, Allan Aughey was pleased that members of Parliament were visiting the region in regard to this issue.

“It’s great that they are meeting in the Clare Valley and getting into regions of South Australia,” Mayor Aughey said.

“I think wind turbines are very good in the right location – where they do not have an affect on the people. “Unforunately the companies want them in the cheapest locations close to settled areas, which is having an affect on people nearby.

“The Clare and Gilbert Valleys is always supportive of renewable energy however there should be more scrutiny than the system currently allows.”