Community responses to the close proximity of industrial-scale wind developments in Mid-North South Australia.
Felicity J Martin
BPsSc -Hons; PostGrad Neuroscience and Psychology of Mental Health, Dip Counselling
* Correspondence: Free access to the full research article available as PDF in Downloads
Abstract: South Australia is a world leader in renewable energy, particularly on-shore wind, with SA's Mid North hosting a significant proportion of developments. Despite extensive developments, little empirical research has been conducted into broad-based factors contributing to rural community responses. A 75-item survey explores costs and benefits affecting local community perceptions of developments within 12 kilometres. Questions are drawn from Australian and overseas research, and responses in 139 submissions by residents directly affected by wind developments, to the Australian Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Wind Turbines (2015). The survey was distributed to Mid North SA communities living within 12 km of wind developments. Regression analysis of 127 SA respondents reveals disruptions to traditional rural friendship networks directly and indirectly predicts increases in self-reported stress through loss of valued landscapes, and perceptions of government failures in monitoring for wind development compliance. Significant disruption to accessing regional and local television reception increases self-reported stress. Contrary to expectations, Amirkhan's (2012) Stress Overload Scale (SOS) scores indicate farmers under 55 years tend to report higher stress levels . Other significant contributors to increasing SOS stress scores are perceptions decisions affecting personal assets are made by powerful others, and perceiving government failure in monitoring for wind development compliance. Turbine noise is the strongest factor predicting sleep disruption, while 67% of residents within 5km report hearing noise. SA government development setback guideline of a 1 km for individual homes and 2km for townships may not be sufficient to protect residents, and a minimal 4 km setback is suggested.