Why did South Australia council reject solar, wind, hydrogen hub?

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Why did Port Pirie council vote to reject half-billion dollar project in wind, solar and storage when the only poll showed massive support?

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I live in the Mid-North of South Australia in an area with the greatest concentration of wind power in the country; there are eight wind farms with 463 turbines within 70 kilometres of my house in Crystal Brook.

The nearby northern Spencer Gulf has also been in the news recently:

Whyalla because of Sanjeev Gupta’s rescue of the steel works,and the  proposed thousand megawatts of solar PV and pumped hydro proposals, and …

Port Augusta with mayor Sam Johnson’s video publicising 13 renewable energy projects involving five billion dollars of private investment in the vicinity of the city.

The third Spencer Gulf city, Port Pirie, is another story.

After vacillating for some time, the council unanimously voted in June to oppose the very innovating proposed Crystal Brook Energy Park which, if built, will be within five kilometres of my house.

The Crystal Brook Energy Park – labeled a battery and hydrogen hub – would include a wind farm, a solar farm, a big battery, possibly a hydrogen generator and has an estimated investment value of around a half billion dollars. It is proposed by Neoen Australia, the owners of the nearby Hornsdale wind farm and Tesla big battery.

For a council in a small rural city to oppose a half-billion dollar project in a region desperate for employment is remarkable enough, perhaps especially so in the case of a renewable energy development.

But Council’s opposition reaches the point of weirdness when one considers that the only poll to test the local feeling for the development showed an 83% approval rating.

I can only say that it is very fortunate that the decision on the CBEP’s future is with the state government rather than the Port Pirie Regional Council, and early indications are that the new Liberal government is as well disposed to renewable energy as was the previous Labor government.

The poll can be seen by clicking here; to see the result click on ‘view results’.

The opponents, typically of wind farm opponents in my experience, have resorted to publishing misleading information anonymously.  In one publication they stated that “complaints about wind farm noise is (sic) increasing across South Australia, but these are rarely addressed or resolved”.  This is quite false.

In fact the Wind Farm Commissioner, running an office set up specifically to look into complaints about wind farms, has only received a total of about 163 complaints from the whole of Australia, on all matters, not just noise, in two and a half years (October 2015 to May 2018); further, some 145 of the complaints have been resolved.

It has often been said, and has been said again in the case of the Crystal Brook Energy Park, that “wind farms cause social conflict” or “wind farms divide communities”.

I have been very conspicuous in my support for the Crystal Brook Energy Park, yet I have not been shunned or abused, nor have I noticed anyone avoiding me.  I doubt there is much more emotion over the energy park than there is over football, religion or the best make of car.

For more information click here.

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