Wind Farms

27 Nov 2003 questionsarchive
A question put forward to the Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) in relation to wind farm development.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, representing the Minister for Urban Development and Planning, a question about wind farm development.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Members would be aware of the importance of the development of renewable energy sources. In the commonwealth-state break-down of responsibilities, the states are responsible for the monitoring and guidelines for wind farm development. I have been contacted by a group of constituents from Yankalilla who have formed an organisation known as Eaglehawk and who conducted a peaceful protest on the steps of parliament house a couple of weeks ago. This group of residents and property owners are supporters of renewable energy sources but they are concerned with the development planned by Origin Energy, known as Kemmiss Hill Road.

The specific concerns of residents include: environmental (given its close proximity to the Myponga Conservation Park, which is home to a rare breed of wedge-tailed eagles); the close proximity of turbines within 500 metres of dwellings; and the lack of consultation with local residents. One of their documents entitled ‘An unjust process’ states:

Both Yankalilla Council and Planning SA had consistently assured the local community that all wind farm applications would be assessed by Council. NOWwe have been told by Council that the State Government via DAC (Development Assessment Commission) could take this privilege from Council. Section 49A in the Development Act directs that Electricity Plants with a generating capacity of 30 MW or UNDER, must be assessed by DAC. There is NO Right of appeal to the public as would be the case with a Council assessment.

Regulation of such developments in South Australia (which falls under the Development Act) does not provide clear guidelines about location, size or capacity. This leads to the potential for poor planning and inconsistency in the approval of wind farms in this state. South Australia’s first wind farm is operating at Starfish Hill and it is to be commended. But, it was not until after its approval that the minister produced a planning bulletin and a plan amendment report. My questions are:

1. Is the minister satisfied that due process has been followed for the approval of the Sellick’s Hill development in terms of local and state government processes? Has adequate community consultation taken place?

2. Will the minister ensure that due process is followed with Kemmiss Hill Road and any subsequent applications?

3. How is the minister ensuring that local communities are adequately consulted while the PAR and other guidelines are so ambiguous?

4. In Hansard of 14 October 2003, the Minister for Energy said:

It is important that wind farms are built in the right locations and after going through proper planning processes.

Does the minister agree with that comment?

5. Will the minister guarantee that residents in the locality of wind farms will not be disadvantaged by any future planning guidelines or regulations which do not yet exist and which may impact upon their ability to develop their own properties or affect their property values?

6. Will the minister consider amending Section 49A of the Development Act 1993 to ensure that South Australian legislation falls into line with other states so that it will be mandatory to consult with local government on planned developments under 30 megawatt capacity?

7. What other sources of renewable energy is the government considering, and what is the status of such plans, given that renewable energy targets may be increased from 2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2010 and that it has been spectacularly unsuccessful at obtaining additional capacity since coming to office?

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation): I will refer all of those relevant and important questions to the minister in another place and bring back a reply.

The PRESIDENT: Order! There is too much audible conversation in the council. The Hon. Mr Stefani has been called twice and has been unable to be heard.


Monday 22 MARCH 2004

In reply to Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (27 November 2003).

The Hon. T.G. ROBERTS: The Minister for Urban Development and Planning has advised:

1. The Minister is satisfied that due process has been followed in the assessment and approval process for the Myponga/Sellicks Hill Wind Farm. He considers that the Major Developments assessment process undertaken for this development has been thorough, very comprehensive, transparent, and in accordance with the legislation.

Consultation has been extensive and involved 2 formal consultation stages. Firstly on the Major Developments Panel’s Issues Paper’ for a 4 week period in September and October 2002 during which some 88 submissions were received. The second period of consultation on the proponent’s Public Environmental Report’ occurred over a 6 week period from March to May 2003 and resulted in approximately 280 submissions. A public meeting attended by approximately 80-100 people was also held during this period. The consultation was very successful and led to a number of amendments to the proposal to address some of the concerns raised, including the scaling back of the proposal from 34 to 20 turbines.

2. An application for the Kemmiss Hill Wind Farm has been lodged with the District Council of Yankalilla. It is a non-complying’ form of development which will ensure full public consultation as required by the Act.

3. Local communities are consulted in accordance with the public consultation requirements under the Development Act and Regulations, 1993, which apply to all development applications.

4. The Minister agrees with the statement by Minister for Energy made on 14 October 2003.

5. It is difficult to comment of future planning guidelines or regulations which to not yet exist. However the planning system has to balance competing interests, and wind farm proposals need to be compatible with the surrounding land uses.

6. The Minister is not proposing any amendments to Section 49A but notes that it currently requires the proponent to give notice of the development to the relevant council and that a council may report to the Development Assessment Commission on any matters contained in such a notice.

The Minister for Energy has advised:

7. The Government is actively supporting the development of the renewable energy industry and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In this regard the Government has already successfully facilitated the development of a number of wind farms. The Starfish HillWind Farm has been operating officially since 4 October 2003, supported by a Government decision to purchase renewable energy for its own operations. The Lake Bonney Wind Farm is under construction. Meridian Energy has announced financial close for its Wattle Point Wind Farm on Yorke Peninsula and an intention to proceed to construction within the next several months. A further nine wind farms have received planning approval.

Through SA Water, the Government has actively supported development of two mini-hydro schemes at Anstey Hill and Mt Bold.

The Government is actively encouraging the appropriate development of solar energy. This is being done through a number of initiatives, including the installation of photovoltaic panels on State schools and public buildings and through incentives for the installation of solar generation systems under the Photovoltaic Rebate Program and the Renewable Remote Power Generation Program.

A rebate is also available for the installation of solar hot water systems through the South Australian Solar Hot Water Rebate Scheme. Due to the overwhelming response to this scheme, in March 2003 the State Government committed an extra $2.6 million in funding for the 18 months following to help the burgeoning number of people who are choosing to install solar hot water systems in their homes.

The Solar Schools Program is a recently initiated program in which the Government is providing $1.25 million to install photovoltaic panels at schools for the combined purpose of providing opportunities to incorporate sustainable energy into curriculum activities and reducing energy costs to the schools.

The Government has also actively supported the development of the photovoltaic industry in the State by providing substantial practical facilitation, for the establishment by Origin Energy of a new photovoltaic manufacturing facility.

The Government continues towork closely with two large-scale biomass energy proponents in the South East, as well as Geodynamics with their exciting geothermal project in the Moomba Basin. The Government is supportive of an increase in the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET). As you may be aware, the Government’s submission to the Commonwealth’s MRET review urged the Federal Government to increase the target to 4.5% above the base line so that by 2010, 15% of generation will be sourced from renewable sources.

This Government believes MRET is crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as renewable industry development.

It is vital that a national approach is taken to what is a national and indeed global issue.

On 16 January 2004, the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target Review Panel released their report recommending that the target not be increased for the current 9500 Gwh (less that 2%). This Government is extremely disappointed and is urging the Federal Government to reject the Report.