A multi-million dollar wind farm project on the outskirts of Portland is in limbo, with the development application within the labyrinths of the Department of Sustainability and Environment for the past 20 months.
Pacific Hydro’s proposed 27 generators for the fourth and final stage of the Portland Wind Energy Project, at capes Nelson North and Sir William Grant, are being held up, it is understood, by a rare small plant and a wasp. However, management at Pacific Hydro remain in the dark, saying there has been no communication from the DSE on the matter.
The company’s senior management, Lane Crockett and Andrew Richards, described the process as frustrating.
Mr Richards said late last week he believed the application may have reached Planning Minister Justin Madden’s office, but he wasn’t sure because there had been no feedback from anyone.
Mr Crockett said the only correspondence the company had received on the application had been from Keppel Prince Engineering general manager Steve Garner.
“Steve Garner keeps on calling us about when the project is ready to start … he is keen to supply the wind towers and provide work for his workforce in Portland,” he said.
The Planning Minister’s office would not comment on the length of time the development application had been with the DSE, saying it was a DSE issue.
A spokesperson for the minister said that while Pacific Hydro had planning approval for each stage of the PWEP, it did have to submit development applications for each stage.
DSE south-west biodiversity services group manager Grant Hull would not provide any reasons as to why the application had been with the DSE for 20 months, but said the company’s wind energy project was a “significant, complex and long-running renewable energy project”.
“The role of the DSE is to provide advice to the Department of Planning and Community Development and Pacific Hydro on the environmental regulatory standards for the project,” he said.
“DSE is currently providing advice on the application to construct part of the final approvals for the Portland Wind Energy Project stage four.”
The Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine seized on the delay as an election issue.
Dr Napthine said it was outrageous the application was still with the DSE after 20 months.
“No one should be forced to wait that long for a decision without any communication,” he said.
“The applicant may not always like the decision, but what we would be saying is, in this case, people’s livelihoods are being put on hold.
“There is Pacific Hydro, there are landholders whose land is where the turbines are proposed, and a whole supply chain as well.”
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