AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan has launched court action over the approval of a massive wind farm on the doorstep of his family’s historic Rosebank property, near Mt Pleasant.
Mr McLachlan has appealed against the approval of the $700 million wind farm, to feature 114 turbines standing up to 165m high dotted along the ranges between Palmer, Tungkillo and Sanderston.
The appeal is listed against wind farm developers Trustpower, the Mid Murray Council, Environment Protection Agency, the Planning Department and the Environment Minister.
A preliminary conference is scheduled to be heard in the Environment, Resources and Development Court by Commissioner Lolita Mohyla at 3.30pm tomorrow.
Mr McLachlan’s is one of four appeals filed against the wind farm, which was approved by the Mid Murray Council’s development assessment panel on December 18. He yesterday declined to comment about the appeal.
In December, he submitted a video message to the development assessment panel opposing the wind farm being built.
“Even if it were to be conclusively established wind farms do not produce health problems, it’s annoying and affects quality of life,” he said.
“I was frankly heartbroken that this land will be forever marred by enormous man-made structures.”
Mr McLachlan also said any wind farm would cause significant damage to the land, would hinder potential tourism opportunities and “cause extreme division in the community”.
Rosebank, a prominent and historic sheep station east of Mt Pleasant, was pioneered in 1843 by Scottish-born landowner George Melrose, whose descendants include the McLachlan family.
The Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians, on behalf of up to 90 residents in the region, have also appealed against the development. They are scheduled for a preliminary conference in the ERD Court in mid-February.
During an ERD Court preliminary conference, the parties discuss how they would like the court proceedings to occur. This could include through continued negotiations, mediation or by trial or hearing.
Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians chair Tony Walker said opponents felt the approval process was unjust. “We believe that the whole process failed to give any weight to the objectors,” he said. “There is a lot of opposition – from the little man on the ground and from people with more resources.”
Numerous people living near wind farms have claimed they cause health problems, including severe headaches and disrupted sleep patterns.
However, the National Health and Medical Research Council issued a report last year that found there was “currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans” – but said there was a need for more in-depth research.
Mr Walker said those opposed to the development were prepared for a fight. “We’ve been fighting for almost five years (and) it’s a fight that could go on for years, depending on who blinks first,” he said. “(But) it’s worth fighting for.”
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