800-signature petition looks to change development rules in windfarm fight

ACTION: Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock, centre, receives the 800-signature petition from Mid North residents.

ACTION: Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock, centre, receives the 800-signature petition from Mid North residents.

A group of Mid North residents delivered an 800-signature petition, seeking to change state government development guidelines, to Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock recently.

The petition was sparked after French renewable-energy company Neoen announced their intentions to build a wind farm and energy park near Beetaloo Valley and Crystal Brook.

The petition urges a change to the classification of the government’s Development Plan for the southern Flinders Ranges.

The plan says the area is “not explicitly envisaged” for development, but the group wants this changed to to “non-complying”.

Residents believe that if their lobbying is successful, the change of classification will make it impossible for the company to go ahead in the area.

A change in this classification would also impact other areas in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula and River Murray corridor.

The petition also seeks to ensure a three-kilometre buffer between existing dwellings and turbines. 

Crystal Brook resident Mark Cunningham said it felt good to know that local voices would be heard at government level.

“I hope they see good reason that the residents are opposed to it and that the Flinders and other regions are sacred,” Mr Cunningham said.

The group is concerned about the proposed wind farm’s impact on land values, tourism and scenery and noise.

Mr Brock said that he encouraged all locals with an opinion on the issue to come forward.

“This group has brought this petition to me as their local member and it is my privilege to present this to the parliament to make the parliament aware of their concerns,” he said.

“Neoen are yet to put an application into the Development Assessment Committee, but when it does happen there is a process to go through.”

Mr Brock confirmed that if Neoen put a formal application through to the committee, the proposal would then also have to be considered by Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis and State Planning Minister John Rau. 

The Port Pirie Regional Council also recently voted to “actively oppose” the development in line with its Development Plan for the area.