Local councils, citizens groups and landholders took the opportunity to voice their opinions on wind generated power when the state government’s inquiry into Wind Farm Developments visited the Clare Valley last week.
The select committee is investigating the economic, social and health effects of wind-driven power stations, which were once seen as clean and green, but are now facing increased community resistance.
Wind farm developers came in for a battering at the hearing.
Speakers described energy companies as having an arrogant approach and showing a lack of respect for the local community.
The state government also came under criticism for amending the planning process which Clare and Gilbert Valleys Mayor Allan Aughey said gave wind farm developers too many advantages.
Regional Council of Goyder Mayor, Peter Mattey said the zoning rules stating turbines must be sited at least two kilometres from a township but only one kilometre from individual homes were ridiculous and had contributed to the division between town and rural residents in his area.
All those speaking on behalf of local government said councils faced additional costs during and after construction of turbines and associated infrastructure, caused by an increase in heavy transport using local roads.
However, councils were unable to charge wind farm operators rates because the turbines were classified as plant and equipment rather than capital improvement.
The planning process was also said to be very expensive for councils, who must engage specialist consultants to obtain the necessary information in considering a planning application, but were limited in the amount they could charge the applicant.
The hearing was also the first opportunity for landholders living in the vicinity of wind farm developments, but not directly adjoining property where turbines were located, to voice their views.
Landholders cited noise issues, concerns for local bird and animal life, native vegetation, soil erosion, loss of farming land to access roads, uncertainty about decommissioning of turbines as some of the reasons for their opposition to wind farm development.
Committee members David Ridgway (Liberal Party), Mark Parnell (Greens) and Russell Wortley (ALP) spent Wednesday night in a house at Waterloo to experience living close to turbines.
However they commented the following day they were unable to make any conclusions on the health and noise effects of the wind turbines from the experience.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding