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Planning starts on $1 billion wind farm

The Glenelg Shire Council has been approached about a proposal for a $1 billion wind farm to the north-east of Casterton, which could provide an economic boost to the town with flow-on effects to Portland.

Origin Energy has confirmed it is in early investigations for a wind farm, but yesterday said the number of turbines or cost of the development had not been identified.

The wind farm proposal is listed in the newly-released Great South Coast Major Projects Cumulative Impacts Study.

The study was done by consultancy SED and looks at major projects proposed and their current status for the period 2011-16.

Glenelg Shire’s list, which valued the wind farm project at $1billion, was compiled by the shire’s economic development and planning unit for SED.

The study has the Origin project listed as providing 300 jobs during the construction phase and 25 ongoing jobs.

Origin’s state communications manager Scott Hargreaves said the company was currently investigating whether a site in the Dundas Tablelands region north of Casterton and Coleraine was a suitable location for a wind farm.

“The investigation is preliminary, and is occurring alongside a number of others as Origin responds to customer demand for renewable energy and the Commonwealth legislation requiring that 20 per cent of the nation’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020,” he said.

“We have not identified the number of turbines or the value.

“We have been in contact with the local councils to learn more about the planning process and local requirements, which was how it came to be identified in the SED Consulting study.

“The investigation will reveal whether the area’s wind is strong and reliable enough to warrant further planning, and involves discussion with potential host landholders.”

Mr Hargreaves said should the investigation progress to the next stage, Origin would undertake extensive community consultation, as well as committing to invest in the local community.

Management at Portland-based wind tower manufacturer Keppel Prince Engineering said this week they were unaware of the Origin proposal but there were a number of proposals mooted in the past few years.

It is understood if the proposal progresses, Keppel Prince would be a frontrunner to gain a contract to manufacture towers and other parts for the wind farm during the tender process.