Planning panel sitting in Pirie hears criticism of wind farm proposal

CRITICS: Gerry Nicholson, left, Lucy Gale, Pam Pilkington and Genevieve Wells are among residents who are fighting the wind farm development.
CRITICS: Gerry Nicholson, left, Lucy Gale, Pam Pilkington and Genevieve Wells are among residents who are fighting the wind farm development.

The proposed multi-million-dollar Neoen wind farm at Crystal Brook would look like “the central business district of Sydney on the hillscape,” a planning assessment panel has been told.

Greg Hatter, represesenting the Hatter farm family at Crystal Brook, said the development would feature 26 of the tallest structures in South Australia.

He was speaking to the State Commission Assessment Panel sitting at the Royal Port Pirie Yacht Club on Wednesday. About 35 people were in the gallery.

The panel is determining its advice to the Planning Minister regarding the project.

The hearing started with a presentation by Garth Heron, of Neoen Australia, who said benefits from the project would be “keeping the lights on and providing 24-hour power to SA at two-thirds of the cost:”

He said that as a result of two years of consultations with the community, the plans had been substantially changed based on feedback.

“We were approached to do the project … a group of landholders came to us with this project … we were selected as preferred partner,” he said.

SUPPORTERS: The wind farm is supported by Luke Richards, left, Ben Richards, Phil Head and Charlie Richards who said: “The $650 million project can only be positive and the flow-on effects will be immense.”

SUPPORTERS: The wind farm is supported by Luke Richards, left, Ben Richards, Phil Head and Charlie Richards who said: “The $650 million project can only be positive and the flow-on effects will be immense.”

He said the project had now “shrunk” to the “smallest possible footprint” that would enable connection to the nearby 275KV power line.

Grant McKenzie, of Port Pirie Regional Council, then told how the council had voted against the project at its June meeting and had submitted questions to the company.

He said the council wanted to preserve the landscape of the Flinders Ranges and was concerned about noise levels.

Mr Hatter introduced himself as representing his parents and the family of the Hatters who looked down on a valley where the project would be set up. Referring to papers before the panel, he said: “This document doesn’t exist … if it doesn’t exist, why are we talking about it?”

The panel’s Deputy Presiding Member Helen Dyer said the matter was being addressed.

Mr Hatter continued by saying that Sydney had only three buildings that were taller than the proposed development.

“It will be double the height of the Snowtown turbines,” he said.

He said modelling for the towers was inadequate and the specifications for the structures were “misleading and deceptive”, based on his own research with an engineering firm.

He was concerned about “flicker” from the associated solar array, saying it could affect drivers on the Augusta Highway.

A woman who next addressed the panel said her husband had died in a highway crash involving trucks carrying heavy structural material.

She said if access to the site was not planned properly, other families could suffer a similar tragedy.

She also queried whether the proof lodgement fee for the project was received by the due date.

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