Public feedback on the proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park has closed, yet some residents are expressing concern that the development application contains an array of errors and contractions.
Neoen’s application to the State Government is to construct 26 wind turbines, each standing at 240 metres in height.
A local resident, Gerry Nicholson, believes Neoen has provided contradictory information about the number and location of turbines, the number of landholders involved, the environmental and visual impact, traffic and bush fire safety.
“For example, the development application says that all turbines are located in the primary production zone, yet one is sited in the landscape protection/ranges zone. On one page, they state the development is only in the Port Pirie Regional Council, and on another they have listed parcels of land that are in the Northern Areas Council”, Mr Nicholson said.
“How can the Government take this application seriously when the developer can not even get their own story straight?”.
Mr Nicholson has also noted that Neoen has claimed there are no substantial safety or site distance issues, which he believes directly contradicts the advice given from the South Australian Country Fire Service which says vertical obstructions such as wind turbines close to a fire area may limit aerial firefighting operations.
In the March 2016 South Australian CFS wind turbine guidelines, it says that aircraft may be used to support firefighting activity within wind farm developments but, considering that such developments are likely to be located outside of CFS designated aircraft primary response zones, aircraft will not be considered as part of an initial response by CFS to fires in these areas.
CFS fire suppression aircraft operate under Visual Flight Rules and as such, these aircraft only operate in areas during daylight hours where there is clear visibility.
Aircraft operators undertake a dynamic risk assessment of all risks to aircraft safety during an incident. The presence of wind turbines, high towers and voltage transmission lines, on or near a fire ground would be considered in the incident action plan
In a response from Neoen they have stated that “…they confirm under the revised layout, the project is fully planning-compliant and there are no turbines in any way contravening any planning or noise guidelines.
Yet Beetaloo Valley resident and acoustic engineer, Ian Petersen has also expressed concern over what he believes are factual errors in Neoen’s application.
“The development application claims that no Beetaloo Valley household is close than 2.9 kilometres from a turbine, with most well over five kilometres, yet one household is 1.3 kilometres from turbines and a further seven are located within 3.5 kilometres of turbines”, Mr Petersen said.
He says that those within five kilometres of the turbines are likely to be impacted by the turbine noise.
“Background noise measurements were based on only five sites, two of which are landholders receiving payments for hosting turbines. The three closest non-associated residences had their requests for background noise monitoring refused by Neoen”, Mr Petersen explained.
He expresses concern that the company’s baseline noise monitoring was conducted in the middle of the grain harvesting period, when there is a higher than usual background noise level.
“A cynic might say it is a convenient way to fudge the data”, he said.
“If we aren’t being told the truth at this stage of the development, it is not setting a good precedent.”
Neoen confirms that their development application has evolved as a result of the project layout having undergone several evolutions over the course of their 12-month consultation with council and local residents.
The State Government were approached for comment on the matter but could only state that the development is currently before the State Commission Assessment Panel, a planning body.
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