Independent Senator Nick Xenophon
August 24, 2012

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon has offered to speak to South Burnett residents concerned about the proposed construction of a wind farm at Coopers Gap between Dalby and Kingaroy.

AGL wants to build a 350MW wind farm in two stages at the site.

The Cooranga North / Boyneside communities have been split with some local residents publicly attacking the proposal on health and environmental grounds, while other landholders have welcomed the project.

Senator Xenophon has been a vocal critic of wind farm proposals and earlier this year called for a moratorium on all new developments.

He told that he was not against wind energy per se, although he did have concerns about residents’ complaints about low frequency noise. People had complained to him about their sleep being disrupted and low frequency noise had been measured by technicians.

Senator Xenophon said there could well be grounds for court cases based on nuisance.

“It is inevitable that common law actions will be run,” he said.

However, he said the real issues about wind farms were economic, including the fact they don’t provide base-load power and must be supplemented by other power sources such as coal.

He said the billions of dollars being spent on wind farm developments was stymying the development of other renewable sources of energy, including geo-thermal power in south-west Queensland and tidal and solar-thermal power in other parts of Australia.

“My issue is about the economics of wind farms,” he said.

He said he would be happy to speak to local residents about the issues and invited them to contact his office.

Senator Xenophon has previously called for a national approach to regulating wind farm developments.

Earlier this week, he told the ABC the rejection of a South Australian wind farm could have implications for the Coopers Gap development.

He said  the decision by a South Australian council to reject the development on the grounds of noise “could well stretch across every State”.

The company behind this proposal, TRUenergy, plans to appeal the Goyder Regional Council’s decision.

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Meanwhile, the company behind the Coopers Gap development, AGL, has decided not to proceed with an extension of its Hallett 3 (Mt Bryan) wind farm site in South Australia.

“AGL prepared a planning application for the wind farm in 2008 and obtained planning consent from the local council in mid-2009,” a company statement said.

“The planning consent is currently under appeal before the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court. The ERD Court has previously upheld the planning consent in November 2010.

“Since obtaining planning consent, wind turbine technology has improved significantly beyond that described in the original development application.

“The original consent would not allow for these alternative and larger wind turbine generators to be incorporated in to the proposed wind farm. As a result AGL is seeking to cease legal proceedings.”

Head of Generation Development Nigel Bean said AGL was looking to develop a new proposal for the Hallett 3 wind farm site to incorporate “larger, more efficient wind turbines” to optimise the performance of the wind farm.

An AGL spokesman told the decision to delay this development to allow the incorporation of new technology would have no effect on its Coopers Gap project.

AGL has the largest wind generation portfolio in Australia.

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