14 July 2004
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has turned down an appeal from a private landowner against the development of a commercial wind farm near Darling in the Western Cape.
Martin Halvorsen’s appeal cited concerns about the potential impact on birds. Halvorsen also said no other alternative sites had been investigated, rendering the environmental impact assessment “flawed”.
However, Van Schalkwyk upheld the original approval, made in February this year, paving way for the construction of South Africa’s first-ever renewable energy power-generating facility.
“South Africa is actively targeting the greater use of renewable and zero- or low-carbon sources of energy generation,” he said.
“Our climate change response strategy requires us to examine all practical alternatives to limit and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases and this is a very important first step in our endeavours towards cleaner production.”
The wind farm will be developed by a private company, and will feed into the national power network.
The proposed development will entail the erection of four Danish-supplied wind turbines with a total power output of about 5.2 megawatts.
These will be located on the farm Windhoek – meaning “windy corner” – 12 kilometres northwest of Darling and about 2 kilometres north of the road to Yzerfontein on the West Coast. The wind farm will be situated below the crest of Moedmaag Hill, a free-standing hill in the north-eastern corner of the site, at 252m above sea level.
Van Schalkway said that although the initial development would be a relatively small addition to South Africa’s power generation capacity, it was an extremely important pilot project to demonstrate the economic sustainability of powering the country’s rapidly growing economy with clean energy.
“Testing and demonstrating the feasibility of small, decentralised and clean power generation facilities is important as part of our efforts to create jobs and eradicate poverty through the creation of SMME opportunities,” he said.
According to the South African Press Association, an experimental wind farm, with three giant turbines, is currently in operation at a site north of Durbanville in the Western Cape.