For the tightly-knit residents of Beetaloo Valley, it is the perfect storm.
With developers planning to put up gigantic wind turbines in the name of responding to climate change, the residents are torn between supporting renewable energy and looking after their neighbourhood.
Do they endure increased noise levels from spinning blades as well as possible impacts on the environment including flora and fauna?
Or do they fight Neoen Australia over its $500 million energy park on the edge of the picturesque Southern Flinders Ranges?
Spokesman for about 30 residents, John Birrell, said the landholders supported wind turbines where they affected only the property-owners involved, not the entire community such as in Beetaloo Valley.
“We are a tightly-settled community near the proposed development,” he said.
“We are living here because it is quiet and peaceful. The project will increase noise levels. It is pristine country and we paid premium prices for our land.”
The “green” sentiment runs deep in this paradise which was a popular area for market gardens and orchards until the 1940s and 1950s. There are lots of small land parcels and a fierce independence from the metropolitan rat-race lifestyle.
“The wind turbines, from the ground to the tip of the blade arc, will be up to 220 metres high – that is as big as the smelter stack,” Mr Birrell said. “They are looking at putting 50 ‘smelter stacks” up on the ridge on the range. It is a visual blight.” Mr Birrell, a retired technology teacher, chaired a meeting with other affected residents at the home of Northern Areas Council’s Cr Sue Scarman in the valley on Thursday. “There was universal condemnation of the proposal,” he said.
Neoen’s head of wind development, Garth Heron, said energy security was the number one issue facing South Australia.
“Last week more than 40,000 homes and many businesses were without power. The state depends on gas which is now in short supply,” he said.
“The combination of battery storage, solar and wind power enables Crystal Brook Energy Park to supply reliable and secure, round-the-clock power covering about 20 percent of SA households.
“The project will drive down electricity prices across the state by supplying reliable energy at a lower cost than gas-fired generation. The proposed park will affect project neighbours and we will work with the community to address and mitigate concerns wherever possible.”
Mr Birrell said the residents agreed with the company’s sentiments about the viability of the project, but did not agree Beetaloo Valley was a suitable location for it.