A $300 million wind farm near Kapunda would threaten wombat and endangered pygmy blue tongue lizards, decimate house values and be a blight on the landscape, residents say.
The State Commission Assessment Panel is meeting in Tanunda today, to hear from locals affected by RES Australia’s plans for the Twin Creek Wind Farm.
The company is planning to build 51 wind turbines on a 5600ha area of sheep grazing and cereal cropping land, about 11km northeast of Kapunda in the Mid North.
Residents say they believe the turbines would create extra frost that they fear could harm farmland and vineyards in the Barossa Valley.
They also flagged worries about traffic issues, plummeting house values and the potential for their sleep to be disturbed by noise from the turbines.
Wendy Oliver, who lives 2.2km from the closest turbines, said the “unusually densely series of wind turbines” would be ugly to look at, and their noise would affect locals’ lifestyles.
It could create traffic issues on local roads – particularly when farmers were moving equipment.
“The endangered pygmy blue tongue lizards will be decimated by the construction process,” she said.
“My major concern will be the frost risk.”
The turbines would be up to 180m tall, and the project was expected to employ more than 480 people during construction.
Hansborough man Brad Hancock said real estate agents had told him his house value would take a huge hit if the wind farm went ahead.
“Our home has been built purposely for the panoramic views,” Mr Hancock said.
Andrew McKinnon, of Bagot Well, said the towers would be “enormous”.
“I don’t think anyone has really grasped the impact of this on the Barossa,” Mr McKinnon said.
“The Barossa risk is significant and it places a lot of jobs and vineyards at risk,” Mr McKinnon said.
Wombat Awareness Organisation founder Brigitte Stevens was concerned about the project’s impact on southern hairy-nosed wombats, which had burrows in the area.
“By the time they put in all the trenches and the roads, the wombats aren’t going to stand a chance,” Ms Stevens said.
“The wombats are just going to move to farming properties and could succumb to disease or stress.”
Kym Mosey, of Twin Creek, whose family would lease some of its land to RES for the wind farm, was visibly upset while addressing the panel on the issues that appeared to have divided some in the community.
He said the majority of speakers represented the minority in the community.
Countless local businesses had closed over recent years, he said, and the development would provide a vital shot in the arm for employment and the economy.
“Country towns are dying … with the need for residents to more populated areas for employment,” Mr Mosey said.
“I’m not asking my neighbours to embrace coal mining or coal seam gas. It’s RES Australia, a family-owned business with an international, credible track record.”
RES Australia’s Dan Leahy said the company’s plans had been modified to take into account the concerns, including cutting 40 turbines from its proposal.
These were largely in the part of the development which was most likely to impact the lizards’ habitat.
The company would also build its remaining planned infrastructure around habitat for animals such as the lizards and wombats.
RES Australia also wanted to set up a conservation site on in the area to create a protected habitat to offset the development’s impacts.
The panel expected to decide on the application within a couple of months.
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