Residents are mobilising to fight plans for wind turbines at Crystal Brook, which would fall just metres short of the world’s largest, in Germany.
The State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) will meet in Port Pirie tomorrow to consider plans for 26 turbines, which would be 240m high – almost double the height of Adelaide’s Westpac building.
Renewable energy company Neoen is planning the project about 3.5km from Crystal Brook. During consultation, more than 260 people had their say on the plans, with the overwhelming majority opposed to the development.
In nearby Beetaloo Valley, the community’s opposition to the $500 million project is clear, with many properties featuring protest signs with the words “No Wind Farm” on fences.
Mark Cunningham said he was devastated when he found out his new home might soon look out over the turbines.
“After working hard and saving as much as we can for my entire working life of 22 years, I was finally able to gather enough to start the process of demolishing our old asbestos-clad house and sign up for a new one to be built,” he said.
Just weeks after signing a building contract, he learnt his new home would be just 1.6km from the development. Mr Cunningham said he was also concerned the turbines would keep his family awake at night. “We don’t want to risk being an experiment if something does affect us,” he said.
Pam Pilkington said she was concerned about health impacts caused by the turbines’ vibrations. “These particular turbines aren’t even in Australia for them to have been tested, so that’s a great concern,” she said.
“This application was lodged under the current regulations but those regulations were put in place when wind turbines were half the size.”
Some residents are pushing for a review of planning rules to create bigger buffer zones between wind farms and homes.
SCAP members travelled to Port Pirie last year to hear from locals concerned about health impacts, loss of views and degradation of the environment.
At tomorrow’s meeting, the panel will hear Neoen’s response to residents’ submissions before deciding whether to recommend Planning Minister Stephan Knoll approves the project. SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros said she wanted a review of planning rules to limit projects to a minimum of 2km from homes and 5km from towns.
Mr Knoll said the State Planning Commission was reviewing the requirements for wind farm developments.
“It’s important that we have a consistent policy framework across the state that better reflects the concerns of affected local communities,” he said.
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