Minister delays wind farm

Standing tall: turbines at the Toora Wind Farm.

STATE Planning Minister Matthew Guy is yet to sign off on approval for the 52-turbine Bald Hills Wind Farm south east of Tarwin Lower.

Time is running out because the approval permit expires on August 19.

The general manager of Bald Hills Wind Farm Development Matthew Croome said yesterday the matter was now in the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

There was a hearing on Friday, but Mr Croome said there was no result from that.

He said the company is trying to find out why the minister hasn’t signed the approval and if there is “anything from us still outstanding”.

“We are seeking information, clarification, confirmation.

“We are now waiting to hear from the minister’s office.”

Mr Croome said he hoped construction would be able to begin fairly soon.

Once the VCAT process provides a better understanding of what needs to be done, the developers will be able to set the time frame for construction.

Mr Croome said it is a two-year project that will provide around 80 jobs.

He said he wasn’t fazed by the length of time it is taking for the wind farm to get underway.

The wind farm’s website says construction was expected to start in the last half of last year and “be fully operational by early 2013”.

That won’t be happening now.

Mr Croome said, “These projects are extremely complex and complicated from a whole lot of different angles, including the technical design. We always assumed it would be a long process.”

Tim Le Roy of the Coastal Guardians has been there all the way.

“It’s been 10 years and one month,” he sighed.

He was at Friday’s VCAT hearing too.

Mr Le Roy told The Star he thought the developers were “getting desperate”.

“They seem terrified; there were six or seven of them (at the hearing),” he said.

He said he believed the minister’s failure to give final approval was caused by the fact the developers had “failed to consult local landowners”.

Mr Le Roy also said the developers don’t yet have their power line back to Leongatha and he sees that as a potential windfall for farmers in their negotiations to have the line run across their land.

“They’re starting the project without knowing if they’ll be putting power to the grid,” he said.

The wind farm will generate 104 megawatts of power, which will be connected to the grid at the Leongatha zone substation.

The wind farm is 10km south east of Tarwin Lower and has been the subject of much controversy.

Its approval was blocked in early 2006 by then Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell, who said the wind farm was too much of a risk to the endangered orange bellied parrot.

This was later overturned.

In 2010, then State Planning Minister Justin Madden gave “secret” permission for the turbines to be 20 per cent taller, from 110m to 135m, prompting a furious backlash from sections of the community. An article on page one of The Star’s February 16 2010 issue said the height change would mean the farm would need flood lights.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=3969

Posted by on Jul 18 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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