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Wimmera wind farm plan: Study proves positive  

Credit:  The Wimmera Mail-Times | Nov. 18, 2013 | www.mailtimes.com.au ~~

Murra Warra could have a 100-turbine wind farm by 2019.

Renewable energy company RES Australia is undertaking ecological and transport studies at the proposed 32-square-kilometre site north of Horsham.

The company, which is building a wind farm north-east of Ararat, installed monitoring towers on the Wimmera plains earlier this year and in 2010.

It will push ahead with its plans for a wind farm after the monitoring returned strong wind speeds.

Development project manager Kevin Garthwaite said Murra Warra’s strong winds, transport links and grid connection made it a prime wind farm location.

He said 22 land owners had expressed interest in the project, which will cost about $450 million.

“From our monitoring, we have found the winds are good enough to make a viable wind farm,” he said.

“We have a whole host of environmental studies to do so I would not be expecting a planning permit to be put to council until mid-2015.

“I should also stress we have an awful lot of public consultation to do.”

Energy from the farm would connect to the 220-kilovolt national electricity grid line between Horsham and Mildura.

Mr Garthwaite said RES Australia had not finalised the number or size of the wind turbines. He said early estimations indicated about 15 people would work on the farm once it was complete.

“The biggest economic benefit initially comes with construction,” he said.

“It can have a knock-on effect by sourcing supplies and people from the local area.”

The proposed site covers land in the Horsham Rural City and Yarriambiack shire.

Representatives from both councils and RES Australia will visit the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm, Macarthur Wind Farm near Warrnambool, next year.

Horsham Rural City Council planning and economic director Tony Bawden said there were stringent requirements placed on wind farms.

“The company, from our discussions with them, are examining those very closely and are working with the affected landholders,” he said.

“Essentially what council will deal with is any effects the planning permit will have on landholders.

“We will liaise with Moyne Shire Council and other councils where there are wind farms to discuss anything we might need to address.”

Murra Warra farmer David Jochinke has one of RES Australia’s 70-metre wind monitoring stations on his property.

Mr Jochinke said he would consider allowing the wind farm to be built on his farm.

“There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before any final decisions can be made,” he said.

“There are two main things I would be thinking about: is it going to affect how we farm and is there a benefit for the owners of the land?

“I need a lot more information to answer those two questions before I would feel comfortable going ahead with it.

“But I would definitely be interested in looking at the proposal.”

Source:  The Wimmera Mail-Times | Nov. 18, 2013 | www.mailtimes.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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