The developer of one of Australia’s biggest wind farms says it expects the project to go ahead, despite revelations it is yet to receive federal approval.
Construction on the $650 million project near Dundonnell, in south-west Victoria, is expected to begin within the next 12 months, after being approved by the Victorian Government on Tuesday.
The permit approval for developer Trustpower follows a thorough Environment Effects Statement process and ends a seven-year standstill since the project’s inception in 2009.
However, the wind farm is yet to receive federal approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Assessment and approval by the EPBC is required when a proposal has the potential to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance, such as wetlands of international importance, nationally threatened species and ecological communities and migratory species.
Darlington farmer Hamish Cummings opposed the project on environmental grounds, and said the Victorian Government had pre-empted an outcome.
“This is very unusual that they’ve taken the steps to announce it before they’ve got approval. In effect, the wind farm cannot be built until it’s got federal approval,” he said.
Mr Cummings said the project site was situated nearby Brolga flocking grounds, and a migratory path for other environmentally protected species.
Trustpower chief executive Vince Hawkesworth said he did not expect the delay to impact a planning permit for the project.
“EPBC approval has not yet been granted, however, this does not affect the status of the permit,” Mr Hawkesworth said.
“Both the Inquiry’s Panel Report and the Minister’s Assessment, which was accredited under the EPBC Act for the purposes of assessing the project, found that the project’s impacts were acceptable and that approval under the EPBC Act may be granted, subject to appropriate conditions.”
“We expect that the separate EPBC process will be closed out relatively soon.”
The Victorian Government has been contacted for a response.
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