Proposed state wind farm planning code discussed in Eudunda
Allan Holmes from the State Planning Commission with Mary Morris.
The release of the planning code, which follows the recently approved Twin Creek development near Kapunda, was shared with more than 30 people attending the State Planning Commission Renewable Energy forum.
The gathering resulted in the Hansborough and District Residents Group revealing their worries over a number of the code’s recommendations. A top concern centred on rural communities unhappy about “inadequate” set distances between dwellings and wind farms.
Vocal to the cause, Mary Morris said the forum, held on December 4 at Eudunda Bowling Club, was the result of a planning commission briefing for community leaders in Adelaide on September 19.
“I challenged the commission members over where they were getting their information from to inform their policy of 1.2km setbacks between house and wind farms,” she said.
During the forum it was highlighted how townspeople are allowed 2km distances, plus 10 metres for every metre increase in turbine height.
“Areas ‘zoned areas for wind farms’ are still basically everywhere rural except for a few selected areas like Barossa Preservation District,” Mrs Morris said.
“Basically little change from (former SA planning Minister) John Rau’s wind farm rules from 2011/12.”
Furthermore, with the change in government, the group was led to believe the Liberals were “going to stick up for rural” constituents.
The group had sought to increase “setback” distances between rural dwellings and wind farms, plus provide ‘no go zones’ for wind farms and reinstate community appeal rights for wind farms. “Instead, the Liberal Government and particularly Liberal MPs in country seats have thrown their rural constituents under a bus,” Mrs Morris said. However, she said the proposed new rules are “a little better” than the current, and offer a few substantial changes to protect communities from wind farms impacts sited too close.
She recognised positive proposed changes including the EPA to provide direction during development assessment of wind farms, all wind farms to be publicly notified and anyone can submit a representation regarding the proposal, and a third party appeal rights for wind farm proposals in restricted areas.
Allan Holmes, former chief executive of the Department of Environment and former member of the EPA Board represented the planning commission.
Mr Holmes told the room that the ‘discussion paper’ and ‘planning and design code’ are government’s policies, not the planning commission’s policies. “…so if communities want the policies to be changed, communities need to convince the government to amend them, not the planning commission,” she said.