The location of DP Energy’s Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park at Port Patterson threatens one local business’ survival while providing a major economic benefit for another.
The conjectural part of the DP Energy Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park sees 59 wind turbines along coastal plains to the south-east of Port Augusta between the southern Flinders Ranges and Spencer Gulf.
The wind turbines would stand 150 metres tall, equivalent to 50 stories.
Homestead Gardens owners Kendall Jones and Trevor Jones, who opened the business in January of last year, say the move threatens their business.
They argue their plans to employ their four children in the future, open a cafe and add more employees through large-scale projects are in jeopardy.
“We’re not against the wind farm, we’re against the location and the secretive and exclusive process that they use to do this major development,” Mr Jones said.
“It’s right on our doorstop and it’s the difference between us continuing to grow our business or selling up and moving.”
However Max Cranes Managing Director Mark Kuhn says the project is vital to his business and the subsequent employment of Port Augusta locals.
“We would benefit from the construction phase…we estimate we do about 65-70 per cent of wind farm maintenance in South Australia,” Mr Kuhn said.
He added the project would be prove a major boost to his business.
“It’d be in the millions, especially if we’re involved in the erection of the solar thermal towers,” Mr Kuhn said.
“We could have anything up to 30-40 people working on that project (during construction).”
Mr Kuhn added there would be between 20-30 employed full time following construction.
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Mr Kuhn says the closure of the Port Augusta power station and Leigh Creek coal mine resulted in a loss of eight-to-10 per-cent of turnover annually.
He believes the DP Energy Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park would help recover those costs but the consequences of it being stalled or not going ahead are grim reading.
“If some of these projects don’t go ahead we’re looking at redundancies for 20-30 people and that flows through to the community,” he said.
Mr Kuhn also says it will force him to stop hiring new apprentices and trainees and he adds the views against the proposed project are disheartening to see.
“I know one of the shackies on public record saying that after construction there’s only 20 jobs added in town, and I think that’s one of the most selfish statements in my life,” Mr Kuhn said.
“We (Port Augusta) need industry and we can’t scare it off by selfish people.”
Mr Jones also says there are bigger picture concerns that come from this process.
“Our concern is not just for the wind farm but that the same development process will be used when the state government decides to go ahead with its high level nuclear waste facility,” Mr Jones said.
The couple argue the Development Assessment Commission appears to neglect their opinion and concerns.
The commission plays an important role in hearing objections, passing those objections onto the developer (DP Energy), and hearing the developer’s attempts to mitigate those concerns.
From there, the commission hands down its recommendations to the state Minister for Planning, John Rau, who decides whether the proposal goes ahead.
However they believe this allegedly secretive and non-transparent process is leading them to one major path of action.
“At this stage we’ll be directly appealing to the Minister for Planning, John Rau, and after that if that does not succeed, we will look at challenging the legislation (Development Act 1993) itself,” Mr Jones said.
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