Residents of Beetaloo Valley have thrown down the gauntlet to the South Australian government, saying if a proposed windfarm in the Southern Flinders Ranges is approved, it should also consider opening up the Mount Lofty Ranges for similar developments.
French company ‘Neoen’ are proposing to build up to 50 wind turbines on top of the hills extending from north of Crystal Brook and Beetaloo Valley.
The South Australian government is providing support to the company, and will sponsor the development through the Government’s Development Assessment Commission, bypassing the local councils.
The area where the majority of the turbines are proposed to be located is zoned ‘Landscape Protection’ or ‘Ranges’.
Spokesperson for Beetaloo residents, John Birrell said the objective of these zones is to explicitly protect the natural character and scenic features of the iconic Flinders Ranges, extending from just north of Crystal Brook through to Hawker.
“We are very concerned that the developers are proposing turbines in this area. Once there is encroachment into this protection zone it sets an alarming precedent for the rest of the Flinders Ranges”, said Mr Birrell.
“If the South Australian Government are prepared to back a windfarm here, they should also be prepared to support opening up the Mount Lofty Ranges for similar developments”, he challenged.
“These turbines will be up to 220m high, from ground to blade tip. By comparison, the Nyrstar smelter stack is 205m high, the Bluff Tower is 172m and the tallest building in Adelaide, Westpac House, is only 132m high”, explained John.
Southern Flinders tourism operator and Northern Areas Council elected member, Sue Scarman agrees, noting most turbines would be located on or adjacent the Heysen Trail, running completely at odds with the strong nature-based tourism sector promoted in the Southern Flinders.
“We urge the government to seriously consider whether supporting yet another wind farm is actually going to add much value at all”, said Ms Scarman.
“We have to move away from ‘development at any cost’ and be a bit smarter about the pros and cons.”
“In this case, we would suggest that preserving the landscape, maintaining the integrity of the Flinders and recognising the importance of nature-based tourism to the state should be paramount.”
Local representatives have sought a meeting with Planning Minister John Rau at the Country Cabinet meeting in Port Pirie. The Country Cabinet is visiting the Mid North on April 2 and 3.
Minister Rau’s office was contacted for comment.