Thursday, 3 November 2011

Reform to unlock power
25 Oct 2011

Councils will be given greater responsibility and there will be a dramatic reduction in public consultation over newly proposed wind farms within the state. These are just two of the changes to be made under the state government's new wind power reforms. According to the state government, the reforms are designed to facilitate further growth in the wind industry in SA.

Minister for Urban Development John Rau said, "The industry has been plagued by uncertainty following a court decision to uphold an objection on 'visual amenity' grounds, and the Victorian Government's crack down on wind power investment". He said an estimated $1.8billion in wind farm investment is currently on hold, pending the reform of the state's planning framework for wind power generation.

The reforms would reinstate local councils as the key authority for assessing planning applications of wind farms. Also, the reforms would set new restrictions for distances between wind farm developments and dwellings, while providing new levels of assurance for investors. This news is expected to come under attack by those currently working towards stopping the proposed wind farm development earmarked for Sedan ranges. The group, known as Eastern Mount Lofty Ranges Landscape Guardians (EMLRG), has been working for the past four months to stop the development instigated by Hydro Pacific.

The new state government wind power reforms involve:

  • Amendment of Council Development Plans to provide greater consistency for assessment of wind farm development applications;
  • Requiring developers to manage the visual impact of their developments, including requiring that turbines be located at least one km from dwelling (unless both parties agree to a lesser distance).
  • Removing the capacity for appeal by third parties against proposals that use this approach and which are located in sparsely zones;
  • Similarly, proposals in sparsely populated zones and where turbines are located more than two km from the periphery of country towns will not be able to be appealed by third parties;

The state government said, to support councils in their expanded role $300,000 will be provided through RenewablesSA to councils that need additional help. The state government is undertaking mandatory consultation regarding the changes. The public can make a written submission regarding the Ministerial Development Plan Amendment to the Department of Planning and Local Government via email at