Residents celebrate Port Pirie council decision to oppose energy park development

SUPPORT: Concerned residents Fran Birrell, Karen Spry, Meredith Kleinig, Jim Spry, Ian Peterson and John Birrell oppose a wind farm in Beetaloo Valley.
SUPPORT: Concerned residents Fran Birrell, Karen Spry, Meredith Kleinig, Jim Spry, Ian Peterson and John Birrell oppose a wind farm in Beetaloo Valley.

As the battle over a proposed windfarm and energy park development in the Southern Flinders intensifies, concerned residents of Beetaloo Valley and Crystal Brook have a new ally in Port Pirie Regional Council.

The proposed plan by Neoen Energy hit another hurdle on Wednesday night, as PPRC voted to “actively oppose” the plan in line with their development policy for the zone.

The energy park would see 16 wind farm towers installed at the southern beginnings of the Flinders Ranges around Crystal Brook and Beetaloo Valley. Plans also include the installation of a solar farm and battery storage units west of the ranges.

The area proposed for many of the wind farm towers sits in council’s Ranges Zone as identified in the municipality’s 2013 Development Plan. This plan states that this zone should be protected from developments which impact the “scenic amenity of the area”.

Beetaloo Valley resident Jim Spry said if the development goes ahead the whole region will feel the impact.

“You will see the turbines from Port Pirie. You can see them from the moon, quite frankly,” Jim said.

During debate, Cr Dino Gadaleta questioned Director of Development and Regulation, Grant McKenzie, about how the council planned to “actively oppose” the proposal.

Mr McKenzie said that while council did not have final the final on the proposal, direct correspondence expressing council’s opposition to the plan would be made to the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock.

Cr Debbie Devlin said that a “dangerous precedent” could be set for the Southern Flinders if the Crystal Brook Energy Park proposal is fulfilled.

“It is important to understand that the council is not against wind farms or renewable energy – we have both in our region already,” Cr Devlin said. “But it is important that we stand up strongly for our Development Plan.”

Beetaloo Valley’s John Birrell was happy with council’s resolution.

“It confirms what we have been telling Neoen ever since they first met with us in February,” John said.

“Their proposal is contrary to both council’s development plan and the state-wide wind farm development plan. We hope this decision will make them rethink.”

Mr Birrell said that “only time will tell” if council measures would make a difference.

“It is the Planning Minister John Rau who makes the final decision … the council can only influence the Development Assessment Commission, as can we as citizens,” he said.

Beetaloo Valley Association member Ian Peterson agreed with Mr Birrell’s sentiments.

“We hope the government will respect the zoning by the council. It is the people of the state who own the zone and the Flinders Ranges,” he said.

“It is a win. We have an additional ally in supporting our position.”