People power prospered in the Southern Downs Council’s Warwick chamber yesterday when councillors sided with more than 200 Dalveen residents and voted against the proposal for a large renewable energy facility in Dalveen.
Southern Downs Council officers had recommended the 444.4-hectare facility, which features eight wind turbines, a solar farm, a back-up generator and has the ability to power 2201 homes with no emissions, for approval.
However, the residents’ concerns, outlined in 56 objections and a petition with 205 signatures, of health, environmental impacts, noise problems and the impact on the amenity of the area, trumped the council officers’ detailed 45-page report and assurances it would not create problems.
Director of planning and environment Ken Harris had barely finished explaining the report to the councillors when councillor Jamie Mackenzie stood up and announced he was against the application.
“I have no objections to alternative energy. There are plenty of windmills around the region,” Cr Mackenzie said.
“But this is nothing like a single windmill on a farm.
“If we are going to have a wind farm, let it be in a windy, isolated area of the region.”
Cr Mackenzie also argued the renewable energy facility was against the council’s planning scheme.
It was not just Cr Mackenzie against the facility, with each councillor having reasons for the plan to be refused.
Cr Pennisi said he was concerned about the impact the wind turbines would have on the native bees in the area.
“I don’t have the appetite to take the risk,” he said.
“There is no scientific evidence that says the bees are not affected by these wind turbines, and these little critters are very important to existing industries in our region.
“Until someone sits in front of me and says it won’t affect them, I won’t be supporting wind turbines.”
For Deputy Mayor Ross Bartley it was the noise impact that set him against the facility.
“It is difficult to measure how much noise the turbines will create in every circumstance,” he said.
“I realise we have taken expert advice, but I am still concerned about it.”
Cr Jo McNally had reservations about the health impacts, and like Cr Pennisi, said she needed more scientific evidence before she could vote in favour of a wind turbine farm.
Do you think the council should have voted in favour of the renewable energy facility? Do you think renewable energy is something the council should be embracing or not? Phone reporter Ella Archibald-Binge on 4685 5901.
For more on the residents’ and developer’s reaction to the decision, see the Tuesday edition of the Border Post.
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