THE erection of controversial wind turbines near Oyster Bay now appears to be a forgone conclusion following the decision by the Kouga municipality’s standing committee on infrastructure planning and development to recommend rezoning the area on which the turbines will be erected.
Unless the Kouga local municipal council rejects the rezoning application, the R2-billion wind farm is now set to go into operation during the second quarter of 2014. The 32 turbines will generate 80MW of power.
This development has been heavily criticised by some residents of St Francis Bay who questioned the location of the proposed turbines.
Yvonne Bosman, of the St Francis Bay Bird Club said: “We certainly need green energy but do we need it generated in a holiday spot? Do we need it generated in a bird stronghold, where vulnerable cranes and bustards are plentiful? Other developers have identified more isolated places with fewer people and fewer vulnerable birds.”
According to Mark Tanton, spokesman for Red Cap Investments, the company that will be erecting the turbines, besides generating clean and renewable energy, the wind farm project will directly benefit local communities through the Red Cap Kouga Community Development Trust – a broad-based ownership scheme, which will ultimately hold a 26% share-holding in the project company funded through a R120-million Industrial Development Corporation loan.
“The Trust will participate in the revenue stream earned from the sale of electricity. Over the life of the project this will inject in excess of R250-million into health, welfare, education, local infrastructural and enterprise development projects for the direct benefit of the local community, which includes some of the country’s most historically disadvantaged and economically marginalised citizens,” said Tanton.
With regard to the farmers on whose land the turbines will be erected, Tanton said: “The farmers who own the land where the wind turbines will operate are key stakeholders, and Red Cap has also taken steps to develop real relationships based on trust, enabling the farmers to feel involved and part of the process. For a farmer to enter into a long-term lease with a company requires both trust and mutual respect. The team at Red Cap has worked very hard to ensure that this has been achieved”.