Wind-farm issue raised in state parliament

An Upper House MP wants to ban the controversial proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park pending an independent review of projects and better noise and pollution controls.

In state parliament, SA-BEST MLC Connie Bonaros demanded the state government put a moratorium on all wind farm developments on the back of new World Health Organisation warnings.

This could affect what she said was the “ugly” proposed multi-million-dollar Neoen wind farm at Crystal Brook.

“We would never build a wind farm on Mount Lofty so why are we even considering one on the doorstep of our internationally-renowned Flinders Ranges and other treasured areas of the state?” she said.

“When the world’s pre-eminent health authority – the World Health Organisation - airs a warning, the world should rightly heed that advice.

“The renowned Geneva-based organisation found that wind power turbines have the potential to cause serious health problems – including hearing loss, tinnitus, high blood pressure and even heart problems - to people exposed to excessive noise levels they emit.”

Ms Bonaros said the organisation had listed recommendations to protect the community from noise including that:

*Exposure to wind turbines should not exceed 45 decibels in a 24-hour period.

*There be a limit at night of 36.3 dB(A) as a measured background level.”

Ms Bonaros said soft radio music, by comparison, had 50 decibels, according to the organisation.

“We need to ensure that the implications of the report are now taken into account in our own wind farm noise guidelines to prevent serious adverse health impacts on rural residents living near wind farms - noting background noise, atmospheric and house construction conditions are quite different in Australia, compared with much of Europe, and that, as a result, even lower noise levels may be required,” she said.

“Wind farms are increasing in size – in terms of both the capacity of energy generated and the size of the turbines.”

“The wind farm being proposed by French company, Neoen, at the gateway of our pristine Flinders Ranges, near Crystal Brook, is just one example.

“Currently the subject of a State Commission Assessment Panel for approval, each of the project’s 26 wind turbines will stand 240 metres high – the highest ever built in the state and double that of many of the existing turbines in SA.

“Each turbine will have an output of just under 5MW – again about double that of most existing wind farm developments.

“The proposed wind farm is only three kilometres from Crystal Brook township and a lot closer to nearby rural living properties – an issue that has concerned local residents, many of whom have contacted SA-BEST.

“Laws permit a wind farm to be built one kilometre from a property without the owner’s consent and two kilometres from a town.”

She said that in Opposition, the Liberal Party had a longstanding policy to better protect residents by banning new wind turbines from being built closer than two kilometres from an existing dwelling without the home-owner’s consent and five kilometres from any town or settlement.

“The revelations by the World Health Organisation that wind farms have the potential to cause significant health dangers is damning,” she said.

“The new guidelines by the universally-respected organisation should send a shiver through us all – especially those who live close to wind farms.

“The guidelines highlight the fact our state’s own noise guidelines – which are already complex to decipher - are grossly inadequate.

“The Environmental Protection Authority’s wind farm noise guidelines for SA exclude noise characteristics specifically identified by the organisation as being of concern, including low-frequency noise and amplitude modulation.

“It is no secret that wind farms are getting increasingly bigger in physical size and greater in output capacity.

“In light of the report and the sheer magnitude of the wind farm being proposed by Neoen, SA-BEST implores the Marshall Government to take decisive and immediate action.

“At the very least, we call on it to place an urgent moratorium on approval or construction of any new windfarms until an independent, full and thorough review is undertaken and an updated, evidence-based, planning and noise pollution compliance regime is implemented that is transparent, effective in protecting health, and relevant for much larger, more powerful wind turbines.

“We must ensure that both operating and future wind farms in South Australia are not allowed to emit noise that causes sleep disturbance or otherwise harms human health.

“We must also review all legislation surrounding wind farm developments to ensure that SA residents are adequately protected from harm over the lifetime of each project, and that SA taxpayers will not foot the bill in future for noise nuisance litigation because inadequate planning and noise pollution regulations have failed to protect SA residents from harm.

“SA-BEST is concerned that wind farm proposals are starting to encroach on some of our state’s most scenic landscapes, including the Flinders Ranges and the Barossa and Clare Valleys.

“If Neoen’s project is given approval to be constructed on the cusp of the world-famed Flinders Ranges, an ugly and irreversible precedent will have been set.

“At present, development assessment for windfarms assumes - but completely discounts - their substantial visual impact on the landscape.”

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