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Wind farm fight is not blowing over

Appellants to the Palmer Wind Farm development met in the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court last month to negotiate the controversial proposal with its developers, Trustpower.

An application for the 114-turbine farm, to be situated between Palmer, Tungkillo and Sanderston, was first submitted to the Mid Murray Council in February 2014 and was approved by their Development Assessment Panel in December 2015 after a prolonged consultation period.

But a group of neighbours concerned about the development continue to put up a strong fight, with four parties embroiled in legal disputes.

Mid Murray Council development services manager Joel Taggart said negotiations, held in the ERD Court on April 13, had progressed well with two appellants.

“The aim of the conference was to negotiate a mutual agreement between the appellant and the developer,” he said.

“We are confident that at least one or two will have some form of negotiated outcome.

“One or two could go to a full court trial.”

Last month’s conferences were adjourned and are expected to reconvene in early June.

Mr Taggart said discussions could potentially go on for months or even years before a mutual outcome was reached.

“Essentially there is no time frame, providing it’s an active matter,” he said.

“But at anytime the court can rule that maybe it is wasting their time or the appellant may drop the matter or the developer might find that it is too costly and time consuming and pull the pin.”

Low frequency noise, visibility and reduced aerial protection in the event of a bushfire are among some of the concerns being raised, as well as environmental and indigenous heritage factors.

Despite recent progression, the council expects that about three or four months could pass before the application is taken any further.

“Nothing can be completely finalised until all parties’ concerns have been finalised,” Mr Taggart said.

According to Trustpower, the proposed wind farm is expected to generate more than 1300 gigawatt hours per annum – enough to provide electricity to around 200,000 homes.

It’s also expected to bring about 300 jobs during construction and 15 throughout its ongoing operations.