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Wind farm under threat

About a third of King Island’s adult population have signed a petition in opposition to Hydro Tasmania’s plan to build a massive 200-turbine wind farm on the Bass Strait island.

The No TasWind Farm Group, which has now hired the services of a mainland PR company to help it fight the $2 billion proposal, collected 434 signatures on its petition which has been presented to the King Island Council.

Hydro Tasmania will conduct a survey next month to assess how many of the island’s 1600 residents and off-island land owners support the project moving on to feasibility stage.

If 60 per cent of those surveyed want the feasibility study to be done, Hydro Tasmania will spend $30 million over two years seeing if the project is financially sound.

If built, the wind farm would be the biggest in the southern hemisphere and much larger than its two mainland Tasmanian counterparts, Woolnorth and Musselroe.

NTWFG president Jim Benn said a significant number of King Islanders thought the proposal to build 200 giant wind turbines towering 150m was a very bad idea for the small Bass Strait community.

Mr Benn said 434 people represented about a third of King Island’s adult population and they were concerned the building turbines over 20 per cent of the island’s land mass would destroy tourism, the island’s unique lifestyle and deter investment in tourism proposals such as a new high-end golf course at Cape Wickham.

The island has been going through some hard times in the wake of a decision by the world’s biggest meat company, JBS Swift, to close its abattoir at Currie.

About 100 people lost their jobs and many left the island in search of more work.

According to the 2011 Census there were 1240 people living on the island aged over 19.

“Given the small population and the fact we live close to one another, I believe many people would have been reluctant to sign the petition and state their opposition to the TasWind project publicly,” Mr Benn.

“Nevertheless, the No TasWind Farm Group has more work to do to convince King Islanders and absent land owners to vote no to a feasbility study on June 7.”