A huge $180 million wind farm has been proposed for Glenthompson giving the drought-hit district a timely boost.
If the wind farm goes ahead ““ which is highly likely given the State Government’s enthusiastic support generally for wind farms ““ it will easily be the second largest development in Southern Grampians Shire, only behind the $270 million Iluka development in Hamilton and Balmoral.
It would also be the first wind farm totally sited in the shire ““ currently there is a proposed small wind farm at Woodhouse but Southern Grampians and Moyne shires share the planning responsibility.
The proponents of the wind farm, which is 3-5kms south of Glenthompson, are Investec Bank (Australia) and Windlab Systems. They say it will “˜revitalise the district providing numerous jobs and a huge economic boost at a time when the area is being hit hard by ongoing drought’.
Called Oaklands Hill wind farm, they claim it will provide up to 60 jobs ““ mostly local ““ during the 12-18 month design and construction phase.
State Government decision
The wind towers will generate about 80 Mw, so the decision on a planning permit will be made by the State Government rather than Southern Grampians Shire. Two layouts are being considered ““ one with 42 turbines, the other with 43.
It’s intended to begin construction onsite in 2008 with the aim of commissioning the wind farm by the first quarter of 2009.
Detailed studies into the impact on flora and fauna, landscape, visual impact and noise have already been undertaken as part of initial planning.
“Once these studies and the consultation process have been completed, a development application will be lodged with the Minister for Planning (Justin Madden),” Investec Bank and joint venture spokesman, Mark Headland, said.
Mr Madden ruled last month that an environmental effects statement for the wind farm wasn’t needed.
An open day explaining the project will be held in the Glenthompson Memorial Hall on Saturday, March 3, from 10am-4pm.
Windlab Systems was established by staff from the former CSIRO wind energy research unit.
High winds recorded
Their research identified the Oaklands Hill site as one of the best locations for a wind farm in inland Victoria, registering wind speeds usually associated with coastal areas.
Investec Bank and Windlab Systems say the proposed wind farm will: cut carbon dioxide emissions by 364,000 tonnes a year; produce enough power to service 52,000 homes; and produce 280,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually.
The slashing of carbon dioxide emissions would be the equivalent of taking 84,000 cars off the road annually or by locking up the carbon of 543,000 trees.
Mr Headland said the proponents would visit neighbouring property owners and shire representatives, starting mid-February, to discuss the wind farm.
“Victoria’s electricity generation is responsible for more than 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Victoria.
“This wind farm will be a clean, emissions-free source of generation which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.
“So while the people of Glenthompson will feel the immediate economic benefits, Oaklands Hill wind farm will ultimately benefit all Victorians.”
The partners have also said they will donate $50,000 to be spent on local projects.
“At this time (during construction) we will work with the shire council to identify opportunities to use this money to benefit the Glenthompson community,” Mr Headland added.
Southern Grampians Shire mayor, Cr Mick Leeming, said it was a tremendous development for Glenthompson.
“Probably the good part about it is that magnificent view of the Grampians will be preserved,” Cr Leeming said. (The wind farm will be south of the highway).
“I hadn’t heard about the $50,000 donation ““ that will be fantastic for the Glenthompson community. They always have projects on the go so no doubt they will find a good use for that,” Cr Leeming added.
It’s proposed to connect the wind farm to the 66KV line from Hamilton to Terang, which is located about 17.5 kms south of the site.
The project has already been referred to the previous Federal Environment Minister, Ian Campbell, who ruled the project didn’t have an impact on matters of national environmental significance.
By Brian O’Brien
15 February 2007
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