Construction of the Crowlands wind farm project will begin in August with a reduced number of turbines to be erected at the site.
Once the 41 turbines begin turning they will produce clean energy power to 50,000 homes, provide local income and jobs, not just in the construction phase but long term for the maintenance of its operations.
Pacific Hydro Australia general manager Lane Crockett said two information sessions, held in Crowlands and Landsborough to provide an update on the final design of the project went very well.
“We had 60 people attend the meetings in awful weather and the response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said.
Mr Crockett said works on upgrading Spring Flat Road would begin almost immediately with the wind farms at the site to begin taking shape in mid August.
“There will be different phases of construction, there will be some early works but then it will go quiet for a while, but we hope to have it finished in 18 months,” he said.
Mr Crockett said during the initial stages some aspects including the design and details will still need to be finalised.
“Depending on the federal election result, things could change with a proposed review of the renewable energy target,” he said.
The wind farm first won approval in 2010 with 72 turbines.
That number has been reduced to 41 and Mr Crockett said that was because of several reasons including community consultation.
“There are a number of reasons why it was decided to reduce the number of turbines in this project,” he said.
“It came from working with the community, technical issues surrounding the complex site, access and the best points.
“There are also environmental impacts and levels of efficiency that had to be considered.
“We were constantly refining from the very beginning and our work with the community helped settle at that number.”
Mr Crockett said in a generic sense the bigger the wind farm the better, but the circumstances for this project didn’t allow for it.
“The local topography is really the main reason why, there are a lot of steep hills and we needed to find that balance,” he said.
“People were concerned about what will happen to their television reception and that is something that can be affected.
“We will be working with them to make sure that can be fixed.”
Mr Crockett said at no stage had anyone raised concerns about their health with the erection of the turbines.
“We had no questions about health,” he said.
“You only have to look at the Challicum Hills wind farm near Ararat, it has been operating for 10 years now.
“It has become an asset to the area without issues of health concerning those who live near by.”
A representative from the Industry Capability Network addressed the farmers at the information sessions about the opportunities the project would bring.
Mr Crockett said Pacific Hydro would form a panel made up of members of Pyrenees Shire Council, the organisation and community to represent and make decisions on a community fund that will be set up when the wind farm begins generating energy.
It’s estimated the fund will raise $80,000 a year to go directly back in to the community.
“The fund will really help engage the community and provide social benefits,” he said.
Mr Crockett said the site of the wind farm at Crowlands, between Elmhurst and Landsborough was chosen because of its elevation and good wind resources as well as existing high voltage transmission line.
He said landholders had always been very encouraging about the project and realised the opportunities and potential that can spring from its construction.
“There are the opportunities of drought proofing a property as well as achieving alternative forms of revenue,” he said.
“They also just support action on climate change and the use of renewable energy.”
Pacific Hydro will hold discussions with Ararat Rural City and Northern Grampians Shire Councils over traffic management and access routes during the construction phase.
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