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Liberals heading for debate on wind energy

Friday, 22 February 2013
Author: Liam Mannix, Indaily

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A PROPOSAL for a full moratorium on wind farm developments in South Australia is likely to be taken to the State Liberal party room in the next couple of weeks.

But the proposal is by no means certain to get through, with two key frontbenchers sending different signals on the contentious issue.

David Ridgway, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House and Chair of the Select Committee on Windfarm Developments, says all wind farm development needs to be blocked until the ramifications of a Victorian court case can be worked through.

During a divorce settlement earlier this month, a Federal Magistrate ruled a parcel of land was worth substantially less because of a wind farm built next door.

"Our view is we should have a moratorium on things until that's been resolved one way or another," Ridgway told Indaily.

"It would be reckless to go ahead with a big development and then find that all of the properties are devalued.

"If land's going to be devalued then putting them there is putting people's equity at risk.

"I don't have an answer. I'm not advocating against wind farms or for wind farms. I simply don't have an answer."

In contrast, Opposition economic and regional development spokesman Martin Hamilton-Smith said that it was common for a development to affect the value of neighbouring properties and he wanted Ridgway to gather and present some facts to back his argument.

Ridgway said the ruling of the case may set a precedent for wind farms devaluating property prices in South Australia.

The ruling was particularly concerning because it looked at the effects wind farms had on adjacent properties.

That meant people who rejected wind turbines being built on their properties might still be effected by a turbine being built next door.

"Even the wind energy people, I've spoken to them, that is a real concern for everybody," Ridgway said.

"Once a legal precedent's been set, it gets complicated."

Ridgway stressed the moratorium was his opinion only and not party policy.

Indaily understands he has brought up the moratorium at several regional forums, including recently on the Yorke Peninsula. An article published on Ridgway's website, says he told a meeting on Yorke Peninsula that there should be a moratorium in established cropping areas.

The current Liberal Party platform calls for mandatory separation distances between homes, population centres and wind farms.

A full moratorium is not part of the Liberal Party's current platform.

Hamilton-Smith told Indaily he hoped Ridgway would produce some facts to back up his proposal when he brought it to the party room.

"I'd want to look at the facts. So I hope David is assembling those," he said.

"That may be his personal opinion; it's not the position of the party."

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