The $1 billion Stockyard Hill Wind Farm west of Ballarat is set to become the biggest wind energy project in Victoria.
Planning Minister Justin Madden today approved three planning permits for the 157-turbine project.
The original application was for 242 turbines, but Mr Madden said planning permission for 85 wind turbines had been refused due to the impact on the nearby Brolga population and the neighbouring historic Mawallock homestead.
He said the approved wind turbines had a combined capacity to generate up to 471 megawatts of renewable energy per year, enough to power more than 250,000 homes.
“I have accepted the recommendations of an independent panel and approved planning permits for 157 turbines as well as the associated infrastructure,” Mr Madden said.
“It was determined that the original application would result in an unacceptable impact on the Brolga population and the historic Mawallock property adjacent to the site.
“The approval of the permits for the reduced number of turbines, along with the conditions that have been applied to those permits, ensures the right balance between the commitment to renewable energy and minimising the impact on the local fauna, flora and community.”
Mr Madden said the planning permits contained conditions to address community concerns about potential landscape, visual amenity and environmental impacts raised in the independent panel’s report.
“The main issues identified in the report were the protection of the Brolga population, landscape and visual impact, noise, flora and fauna impacts, public health effects of noise, built heritage impacts and transport and site access,” Mr Madden said.
“In addition to rejecting the turbines that impact the local Brolga population, the permits contain conditions to address the environmental impacts identified through the assessment process.
“We have worked closely with Corangamite and Pyrenees Shire councils and listened to the local community, interest groups, and the developer to ensure the best possible outcome.
“This decision highlights the role of the planning and environmental assessment in enabling renewable energy in the right location to achieve a more sustainable future for Victoria.”
Mr Madden said development of the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm would create up to 665 jobs during construction as well as 30 ongoing operation and maintenance jobs once completed.
“This project demonstrates the Victorian Government’s commitment to meeting the climate change challenge and driving down greenhouse emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020.”
The Stockyard Hill Wind Energy Facility planning panel report can be viewed online on the Department of Planning and Community Development website, www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/planning.
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