Spencer Gulf leaders come together in Port Augusta

MEETING: Deputy Mayor Brett Benbow says the planning system for renewable energy developments has caused issues for nearby residents and Councils.
MEETING: Deputy Mayor Brett Benbow says the planning system for renewable energy developments has caused issues for nearby residents and Councils.

The Spencer Gulf Cities Association came together in Port Augusta for its latest meeting, with a focus on improving the planning assessment and compliance of renewable energy developments in the region.

Port Augusta Deputy Mayor Brett Benbow said the planning system has failed to keep pace with the growth in renewable energy developments.

“We need to make sure that state approval, monitoring and compliance regimes are urgently updated so nearby residents and communities and environments aren’t adversely impacted,” Mr Benbow said.

With an abundance of new renewable technology being introduced into the region, the leaders are looking to keep up with developments in order to ease local concerns.

The potential 5MW fixed tilt solar PV farm on Woolundunga Road has been one of the projects that has divided local opinion.

Residents have raised concerns about issues such as dust, road corrugation and property devaluation as a result of the solar farm site being located close to their homes.

The meeting also gave the Upper Spencer Gulf representatives the chance to discuss opportunities to meet with key representatives from the new Liberal government.

Whyalla Mayor Lyn Breuer said the three cities have plans to meet with state government representatives in the next couple of months.

“We will give the new government time to settle in, but we need to make sure they have a good level of understanding of the issues and opportunities our three cities and our region is facing,” she said.

“We have come so far over the last few years in our economic transition, but now is not the time for us to rest – we must keep pushing forward with opportunities to diversify and strengthen our economy and our communities, so we are more resilient the next time we have a downturn.”

The councils discussed a number of potential joint operations that could help financial and resourcing efficiencies across the three cities.

Port Pirie Mayor John Rohde said they were looking at ways to save costs, reduce duplication, increase organisational capacity and maintain a more sustainable workforce.

“Our next step is to formalise an agreement between the three council administrations and get some expertise to help us analyse where we can best target our effort to gain the best results for our collective communities,” he said.