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Wind farm 'to help drought-proof farms'  

A $250 million wind farm planned for rural Victoria will help “drought-proof” struggling farms, the company behind the project says.

The Victorian government on Thursday signed off WestWind Energy’s plan to build a 160-megawatt wind farm at Mt Mercer, 30km south of Ballarat.

WestWind Energy plans to build 64 turbines on 2,600 hectares of land, which crosses several farm properties.

The company’s planning and business development manager, Tobias Geiger, said the project would help drought-proof farms for another two to three generations because of the extra income it would bring the farmers.

Each of the seven land owners will be paid up to $7,000 per turbine built on their properties.

“Obviously for the landholders it’s a great relief now that it has been approved because it will help them really drought-proof their activities,” Mr Geiger said.

“From an environmental point of view it’s quite remarkable how farmers realise the impacts of global warming and that they really want to do their bit to combat global warming.”

Farmer Ian Wylie, who will have 18 turbines built on his property, said the income would help him survive the drought.

“It will just mean now being able to get through the drought without having to sell breeding stock, we will be able to buy more feed and keep things going along until the drought breaks,” Mr Wylie told ABC Radio.

“When the drought does break we’ll be able to put in infrastructure so if it does happen again we won’t be in strife.”

WestWind plans to begin construction next year, with the wind farm expected to be fully operational by mid-2009.

Mr Geiger said that date was dependant on the company securing the turbines, which would most likely come from Germany but were in world-wide short supply.

The wind farm – which has a life span of 25 years – is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 73,000 homes.

Planning Minister Justin Madden said the project, approved on the recommendation of an independent panel, was an economic and environmental boon for Victoria.

“The Mt Mercer wind farm will be a win for the environment, a win for jobs and a win for sustainable development in rural and regional Victoria,” Mr Madden said.

“We expect this project alone to save more than 390,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.”

The wind farm would create up to 120 construction jobs and 12 permanent positions, Mr Madden said.

It is the 11th wind farm approved in Victoria, with four currently operational.

theage.com.au

12 April 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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