THE nation’s most powerful wind farm is expected to be built west of Melbourne after the state Government announced yesterday it had approved the $380 million project.
The Government said the 232 megawatt Mount Gellibrand wind farm near Colac would generate enough energy to power more than 130,000 homes.
Although brolgas have been seen in the area, there is expected to be no repeat of the Bald Hills wind farm row – where federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell moved to block the proposal, citing threats to the orange-bellied parrot, helping the Government secure a marginal seat.
State Planning Minister Rob Hulls said German company Pro Ventum International had agreed to modify its proposal to reduce the risk to the birds posed by its 116 turbines.
“The issue of brolgas was taken into account and indeed the panel recommended that any amelioration of the impact of brolgas can certainly be done by the proponent. The proponent is prepared to do that,” he said.
Mr Hulls said only nine objections had been lodged against the project, which would see about 110 jobs generated during construction and 20-25 full-time jobs created after completion.
Landowner Tim Gore, who has agreed to have 32 turbines on his property, said he understood the project would begin late next year and be completed about two years later. Mr Gore said he was not concerned about possible noise from the turbines.
But critic Tim Le Roy said there was no environmental benefit from the project at all and said the Victorian Government would do better spending its money on geothermal energy.
Mr Le Roy also disputed that the wind farm would be Victoria’s largest, saying a wind farm planned for Waubra, in the state’s west, would have 128 turbines.
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu said there had been little criticism of the Mount Gellibrand proposal but he continued to speak out against them.
“Wind farms change the landscape, they change it dramatically, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Baillieu said.
“Some of these turbines are 40 to 50 storeys high and you can see them for 30-40km.”
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