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Crunch time for King Island wind farm plan

The chances of the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere being built on King Island could depend on the contents of a new economic impact report.

Hydro Tasmania is proposing the 200-turbine TasWind development be built on the windswept island best known for its beef and cheese.

The company says it will only go ahead with a feasibility study if 60 per cent of the island’s 1500 people support it in a vote to be conducted by polling company EMRS.

Hydro says it would bring up to $310 million in benefits to the island, 500 construction and up to 60 permanent jobs, and an upgraded port.

The project, which includes a cable under Bass Strait, would begin in 2017 and be completed two years later if given the green light.

Polling begins next week but already a group opposed to the project is using an independent study to question the benefits.

The No TasWind Farm Group (NTWFG) has jumped on a wost case scenario in a report by consultancy CH2M HILL that puts the wind farm’s negative effect on tourism at a cost of up to $50 million over the next 30 years.

Chairman of the group Jim Benn is happy to be branded a NIMBY – not in my backyard – when it comes to the $2 billion proposal.

“It will be in our backyard, our front yard, our side yard and the other side yard as well,” Mr Benn told AAP.

“The power all goes to Victoria. Why would you put it on King Island?”

Mr Benn says much of the money wouldn’t reach the island and predicts the community would whither and die, a claim Hydro dismisses.

The CH2M HILL report compared growth forecasts for King Island with and without the wind farm.

It factored in likely tourist numbers with the development of two new world class golf courses and found significant growth would occur under both scenarios.

However that growth was likely to be $36 million less with the wind farm in the period until 2044.

“Some of the report’s longer-term assumptions are simply crystal ball-gazing and, in our opinion, overly optimistic,” Hydro chief executive Roy Adair said in a statement.

A company spokesperson told AAP the comments “Are reflective of the unfortunate and unnecessary scare campaign the group is currently running.”

“The report shows TasWind will have significantly more benefits to the King Island economy in its first 10 years than other planned developments.”

Crunch time comes when voting forms are due back on June 17.

Mr Benn said if people think there’s hardly anything in it they could say “well stuff it, why would I have a 150-metre tower beside my house?”

“I think that’s got to sway your thinking.”