Opposition to energy park

CONCERNS: The Crystal Brook Energy Park map, provided by Neoen.
CONCERNS: The Crystal Brook Energy Park map, provided by Neoen.

A powerful presentation was given to the Port Pirie Regional councillors on Wednesday night, in opposition to Neoen’s proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park.

The park will consist of 26 wind turbines, expected to be the largest in Australia sitting at 240 metres high, in addition to 170 hectares of a solar photovoltaic generation on single-axis trackers with one of the turbines to sit just four kilometres from the Crystal Brook main street. 

More than 30 residents gathered in council’s gallery as Genevieve Wells and Pam Pilkington stood as representatives and put forth their passionate argument that the residents do not want this park to go ahead. 

The proximity of the park to the main street, visual appearance, health implications, residential growth disruptions, house devaluation, noise complaints, disruption to television and radio signal and tourism impact were pushed as topics for council to consider. 

Councillors presented like wise concerns but also questioned the facts that were presented by the party and asked for more clarification.

Councillor Darryl Johnson expressed his concerns for the elderly residents living in the area, that the disruption to their television and radio signals could be detrimental to their livelihoods.

Whilst strong arguments were heard all around the room, it was the final words of the presentation given by Mark Cunningham, which gave council a first hand perspective of the impact of this project.  

Mr Cunningham and his family have just spent their life savings to build a family home and will be surrounded by the towers, which reach heights taller than the Port Pirie stack. 

“It is quite an important issue for all these residents. The best outcome would be if the development board took note of our concerns and reevaluates the submission by Neoen and find an appropriate place for such a development.”

“I think the councillors understand our position and hopefully they can make an impact on their submission to the governing board. I think they understand the tourism element which will have an impact on the Flinders Ranges.” 

Following the presentation, Pam Pilkington had confidence in what they had presented to council and hope to see it move along before the appeal date of June 29. 

“We had lots of questions and interaction from council following our presentation and I think that is a really good indication that it raised many issues for them to consider and they seem to be very supportive.”

The Director of Development and Regulation for the Port Pirie Regional Council, Grant McKenzie spoke after the meeting and said that residents need to know that council is not the assessing or approving authority in this situation and all they can do is make a comment. 

“To make it absolutely clear, the Crystal Brook Energy Park proposal has been lodged with the state, despite what might have been said on local radio. It will be assessed by the state, the relevant state minister will sign off on it. Council gets an opportunity to comment on the proposal, but council is not the assessing or approving authority”, 

“The Crystal Brook community should be congratulated on their display of passion and intent. It was great to see that many people in the chamber. They were there to see if they can gain political support from their elected members directly to the government.” 

In a response from Franck Woitiez, Managing Director for Neoen, he says: "through the course of the discussion, we have engaged heavily with the local communities in Crystal Brook, agencies as well as the department of planning, and have very significantly reduced the footprint of the project as a result. We have presented our plans to the council and they have not raised further concerns. While the application is in process, we are continuing to work closely with the council and community at large to ensure any potential disruptions are kept to the bare minimum."