Renewables developer Ark Energy has dumped plans to build a 50MW wind farm in north-western Tasmania, saying it will focus instead on its portfolio of larger projects, including another three wind farms proposed for the island state.
Ark confirmed on Friday that it had “made the difficult decision” to cease development of the Western Plains wind farm – the smallest project it its Australian development portfolio at 50.4MW – and withdraw it from the planning process.
“With a growing national portfolio of renewable energy projects, Ark Energy is focusing on its larger utility-scale wind energy projects,” a company statement said.
“While the tip of the Stanley peninsula is an exceptionally windy location and the world leading wind resource makes it an excellent site for a wind farm, the scale of the project no longer fits with the priorities of Ark Energy’s portfolio.”
The tip of the Stanley peninsula, home to the much beloved and “Nut” landmark and tourist destination, was also a controversial location for a wind farm, sparking community opposition to the plans which Ark inherited from its acquisition of Epuron.
The Burnie Advocate reports that parts of the local community have responded with relief to the news that the 12-turbine project will not go ahead.
“This wind farm was simply the wrong project in the wrong place. There are better options on the table that will deliver renewable energy at far less cost than this divisive project,” said Kerry Houston, secretary of the Respect Stanley Peninsula – No Wind Turbines group.
“For example, two very large solar farms which have received positive community and environmental feedback seem to be much better value than the Stanley wind farm.
“People finally feel they have been listened to.”
The paper also reports that the timing of the project’s withdrawal coincides with a bid by the local Circular Head Council to amend its planning rules to include Local Provision of Scenic Protection Areas to protect the Stanley peninsula.
Ark gave a nod to the local community in its statement on Friday, offering its thanks to those who engaged with the developer over the project and to Circular Head Council and “other important stakeholders.”
“We especially thank the many private landowners who were involved, in particular the owners of the site for the opportunity to progress the project and for their unwavering support. We also wish to acknowledge their respectful stewardship of large areas of the Stanley peninsula.”
The removal of the Western Plains from Ark’s portfolio leaves Ark – a Korea Zinc subsidiary – with 11 wind farms under development across the country, including three in Tasmania and eight spread between New South Wales and Queensland.
In Tasmania, Ark’s proposed 300MW St Patrick’s Plains project has come up against pockets of strong local opposition, including over its potential impact on the local population of wedge-tailed eagles.
In August, an Environment Impact Statement for the proposed wind farm said Ark was considering the installation of 24 turbine curtailment devices to avoid collision deaths of the endangered birds.
In its statement on Friday, Ark says it believes “the only way forward for Australia is to transition swiftly to renewable energy,” adding; “the company remains committed to its other utility-scale wind farm projects in Tasmania and around the country.
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