A planning application for the huge Penshurst wind farm is likely to be lodged months later than first expected.
Proponent RES Australia has been asked to complete an environment effects statement (EES) for the 223-turbine project, which would be built on land within Southern Grampians and Moyne shires.
Last month the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) established the Penshurst wind farm EES technical reference group, which includes representatives from both councils, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria and VicRoads.
RES and DPCD officers have met with technical reference group members to detail the project and outline working draft scoping requirements and the draft stakeholder and community engagement plan, with feedback on these expected shortly.
A second meeting of stakeholders is expected within the next three weeks, at which RES will provide technical work relating to the wind farm that has been prepared by its own consultants.
Company developer Simon Kerrison said the public would have 15 business days to comment on draft scoping requirements for the EES once they were released by the DPCD.
“We expect to get the final EES scoping requirements from the DPCD probably at the end of September,” he said.
“We hope to finalise the EES either at the end of this year or at the beginning of the following year. It will be dependent on what’s actually within that final document.”
RES expects to lodge a planning permit application for the wind farm early next year and may also apply for permission to build an associated transmission line.
It had originally hoped to submit the documents this spring but revised the timing after being asked for additional surveys relating to the project.
Mr Kerrison said the EES was likely to go to Planning Minister Matthew Guy at the same time as Southern Grampians and Moyne shires received the permit applications.
“(The minister) will review all the documentation and he’ll make a recommendation which will be passed on to the councils and then it’s up to their discretion as to whether they agree and approve the project and give us planning permits or not.”
Councils can ask Mr Guy to assess the application if they deem their resources inadequate to make a decision.
The Coalition last year said that if elected it would return fairness to the planning system by not approving a wind turbine within two kilometres of a home without a signed contract with the resident .
Uncertainty continues to surround the policy, with some media reports suggesting Premier Ted Baillieu has taken responsibility for its implementation.
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