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Wonwondah wind farm gets approval

More wind turbines will soon be visible on the Wimmera horizon after the state government approved construction of a new wind farm at Wonwondah North.

The 40 megawatt, 13-turbine wind energy facility off Rifle Butts Road is expected to power more than 25,000 households once it is up and running.

The project will create 120 jobs during construction, along with up to four full-time positions throughout the farm’s operation.

Wind farm developers NewEn Australia submitted a planning permit for the project to Horsham Rural City Council in March.

Wimmera Development Association executive director Ralph Kenyon said the farm’s approval was a positive step towards promoting clean energy.

“Any opportunity to develop alternative energy sources is a positive thing,” he said.

“We’re very pleased about this approval and the Wimmera Development Association completely supports the development of alternative energy resources.”

Mr Kenyon said there was a lot interest in developing alternative energy centres in the Wimmera.

“As we’ve seen with the Bulgana, Murra Warra and Kiata wind farms, it’s certain that more of these farms will be planned and developed around the region,” he said.

“However, the big issue we will have as more of these are built is ensuring there is capacity for energy to feed into the grid.

“Grid capacity is likely to be filled up very soon so there needs to be augmentation with existing networks and the creation of new lines to feed into these sources.”

Mr Kenyon said the wind farm would provide financial benefits to residents by providing job opportunities and lowering energy prices.

“These alternative energy facilities will only continue to provide more income streams for these areas,” he said. “They will also provide cheaper energy prices for the region and help bring energy emissions down to target.”

At the time of the submission, NewEn Australia director Ernst Weyhausen said the company considered a location that would not be in direct sight of the people living in the general area.

“In this regard, Rifle Butts is particularly good because it only has 30 houses within the five kilometres and most people would not be able to see the farm,” he said.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the site was chosen because it received undisturbed wind flow with strong, consistent wind speeds near the existing electrical grid.

“This new wind farm is another important step forward in creating a more sustainable future for regional Victoria,” he said.

Construction is expected to start in early 2019.