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Albany wind farm

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The approved wind farms, particularly those near Makhanda and Addo Elephant Park, border on ecocide, destroying the region and conflicting with crucial preservation and protection programs.
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Albany Wind Power (Pty) Ltd. plans to develop, construct and operate a Wind Energy Facility (WEF) approximately seven kilometres (7 km) east of Makhanda/Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape Province and the public is being asked to comment.

The proposed Albany WEF will consist of up to twenty-five (25) turbines with a proposed maximum power output of the facility is up to 297 MW. The proposed turbine footprints and associated facility infrastructure will cover an area of up to 45 ha (final footprint after rehabilitation). 

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    standing nearly 220 meters tall and 170 meters wide

    In the serene landscape of Makhanda lies a hidden threat—ill-placed wind farms including the disastrous proposed Albany Wind Farm. The colossal turbines, which are placed on top of the highest hills and stand almost 220 meters tall and 170 meters wide, threaten the scenic views and biodiversity of iconic locations, including Makhanda, the Albany landscape and the Addo Elephant National Park. In comparison, the existing Waainek turbines are 140 meters tall.

      1. Visual Impact: The visual impacts of the proposed Albany WEF (and the cumulative effects of wind farms in the region, including the proposed Albany WEF) have not been adequately considered, demonstrated, visualised and communicated by the developer(s) and have not been considered correctly or adequately by the approving authorities.
          1. The reduction by the Developer of the number of turbines to 25 in no way reduces or changes the overall devastating visual impact of the proposed Albany WEF. In fact, it makes the visual impact significantly worse in that some turbines have now been re-located specifically on the very tops of hills and mountains, which are the highest points in the Makhanda and Albany areas.
      2. Social and Economic Impact: Failure to adequately consider the broader social and economic impacts of the project, raising concerns about potential adverse effects on the local community and the Eastern Cape region.
      3. Biodiversity and Noise-Related Impact: Concerns regarding the potential biodiversity and noise-related impacts of the proposed Albany WEF, which require comprehensive evaluation and proper consideration.
        1. The proposed Albany WEF is situated in the middle of one of the world’s most biodiverse regions and the most successful black rhino breeding programme in the world, operated and supported by National and Provincial Parks in the region, ECPTA, WWF, private land owners and many others. It is critical for the region and the planet that this biodiversity is protected at all costs.
      4. Animal and Bird Impact: Concerns regarding the impacts of the proposed Albany WEF on animals (specifically elephants) and birds generally, which require comprehensive and adequate evaluation and consideration, including noise impact to animals and animal communication. As examples:
        1. The Developer and the Avifaunal specialist and Avifaunal Ground Truthing Reports make no mention of and include no consideration of the impact on highly endangered Vultures (including Cape Vultures ), including the cumulative effect of wind farms in the region. These turbines will have a devastating collision impact and other impacts on vultures (and many other birds) and the very serious efforts to prevent their extinction in the Eastern Cape and Southern Africa.
        2. Insufficient studies have been done on the effect and impact of wind turbines (both movement and noise) on various animal species, including elephants. We know that they impact these animals and until this is quantified and assessed with scientific certainty, the precautionary principle of not locating wind farms in these areas should be applied and followed.
      5. Heritage and Cultural Landscape: Apprehensions about the project’s impact on heritage and cultural landscapes, raising questions about preservation efforts and the region’s future.
      6. Need Desirability: Lack of need desirability, asserting that a wind farm is not needed in this area when more suitable locations are available.
        As an example, the very poorly located proposed Inyanda -Roodeplaat wind farm was rejected on appeal as it was found that there were numerous other proposed and approved wind energy projects with substantially less environmental impacts. This applies exactly also in the case of the Albany and Addo wind farms – there are numerous possible better locations to generate the power that will be generated by the proposed Albany WEF.
      7. Community Consultation (Public Participation): Lack of adequate community consultation and inadequate public participation, including the absence of public meetings to sufficiently explain the wind farm and its potential impacts (and the impacts of cumulative wind farms).
        1. Limiting the current public participation to existing registered I&AP’s is inadequate and the full public should be included (with full public advertising, etc). Advertisements calling for the public to register as I&AP’s were many years ago (one newspaper advert in the Grocott’s Mail in 2018 and one advert in the Herald newspaper in July 2021).
        2. There have been no further efforts of effective communication such as local newspaper and publication adverts, advising local and severely affected communities on the ground (as they will not see an obscure newspaper advert) and most importantly, there has never been a public meeting to properly explain the proposed Albany WEF and it’s impacts to the public.
        3. The process has been inadequate and unreasonable (especially that no public meeting has ever been held).
          This application process has been ongoing for nearly 6 years now and there are many new people and changes in the area and the region since 2018. In addition, the developer has drastically changed the scope of the development between 2018 and now. The latest Final Environmental Management Programme and final turbine layout amount to major changes with significant new information and the general public and all possible I&AP’s are entitled to be fully informed and given an opportunity to comment.
        4. The final EMPr and Specialist Reports now include the grid infrastructure for the first time? This was previously part of its own EIA process and is the subject of different appeals. The public and potential I&AP’s has never been afforded the opportunity to consider this combined information.
        5. The proposed Albany WEF (both itself and cumulatively with other proposed and approved wind farms) will have a devastating impact on Makhanda and the Eastern Cape and the public is entitled to know and be fully informed.
      8. Nature and Wildlife Tourist Impact: Nature and Wildlife Tourism Impact: Insufficient consideration of the nature and wildlife tourism impact of the Albany WEF (and the cumulative impact of wind farms in the region), a critical aspect for the region’s ecological balance and tourism potential. This has not been adequately considered or addressed by the developer and the authorities.
        1. The Minister has made the following statements and emphasised the following in relation to biodiversity and tourism (including in her keynote address at a SANParks Tourism Investment Summit). The decisions being made to locate wind farms in critically sensitive environments and major tourism areas, including the Albany wind farm, is irreconcilable with these statements and principles:
            1. “The contribution of tourism as a catalyst for the growth of the South African economy cannot be downplayed. The tourism industry is not only labour intensive and therefore a major job creator when it thrives, it is also an industry that has one of the highest multiplier effects, contributing both directly and indirectly to several other primary and secondary sectors in its value chain.
            2. Biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are some of tourism’s greatest assets, its natural capital, and fundamental to its long-term growth; after all, leisure travel is primarily motivated by the opportunity to engage with nature and culture.
            3. Conservation and tourism are therefore interdependent in many respects, when developed and managed in a sustainable and responsible way, tourism can be instrumental in safeguarding biodiversity and globally tourism revenue is indispensable to the funding of the protection of biodiversity.”

          The relevant biodiverse and sensitive wildlife areas in the Eastern Cape are largely difficult commercial farming areas which is why nature and wildlife tourism and other wildlife related commercial activities have been the largest growing economic activity in the Eastern Cape. Tourism and these related businesses create sustainable jobs and will create many more jobs in the future. They also directly and indirectly support many related businesses and it is not an exaggeration to state that tourism is saving this area of the Eastern Cape.

          If wind farm developers and the government do not take a more discerning and informed approach to the positioning of wind farms in the Eastern Cape (including not allowing the Albany WEF in any form), the cumulative effect of indiscriminate carpet bombing of wind farms in the Eastern Cape and its sensitive and tourism and wildlife areas will destroy tourism and the potential of the province.

      9. Protected Area Expansion Impact: Protected Area Expansion Impact: Apprehensions regarding the impact of the Albany WEF on the growth of Protected Areas and development of the of the Albany Biodiversity Corridor and the Addo-Amathole Biodiversity Economic Node, raising concerns about long-term environmental consequences. In essence, the construction of the proposed Albany wind farm (both itself and cumulatively with other proposed wind farms in sensitive areas), will prevent already planned and already being implemented protected area expansion in the region, in addition to destroying the sustainability of existing protected areas)..