Farmers welcome wind farm approval

Farmers who will have turbines on their properties have welcome approval of a Colac district wind farm..

FARMERS set to have wind turbines on their land have welcomed approval for Colac district’s wind farm.

The State Government has granted final approval for Spanish company Acciona Energy to build the 63-turbine farm north-east of Colac.

The $350-million farm will provide enough energy to power 88,000 homes once completed.

Kate and Will Hanson at Irrewarra will host seven turbines on their 890-hectare sheep property.

Mrs Hanson said government approval was “positive for the development” 10 years after initial planning started.

“It’s one of the big hurdles they needed to get over to get it built, so finally it may get built,” Mrs Hanson said.

“That’s not Acciona’s fault, they weren’t involved and a lot has happened in that time,” Mrs Hanson said.

Acciona bought the wind farm project with a planning permit from a developer in 2008.

Birregurra’s Barbara Beach, another host landholder, said she could see the wider benefits of the project.

“It will bring in a lot of employment for the construction of it because it’s a huge construction,” she said.

“These people will have to be accommodated in the area.

“It will create that type of employment.”

Acciona’s director of generation Brett Wickham said the first job for workers would be upgrading road access to the farm north-east of Colac.

“We’ll be commencing works before March,” he said.

“That’ll be some civil works and road upgrades off the Princes Highway.”

Mr Wickham said it was too early to know when the wind turbines would be up and spinning, generating power.

“The real detail of that is dependent on all the contracts that we’re feverishly working on at the moment,” he said.

“We have three main contracts; the civil works crew, then there’s the electrical crew, finally you will have the installation which is the crane crew.”

Mr Wickham said Acciona would look to Colac to recruit workers during the construction phase and once the wind farm was working.

“Recruitment will slowly ramp up over the next six to nine months,” he said.

“Our first port of call will be Colac and then we may look wider to Geelong.”

Acciona and its contractors will employ up to 200 people during the construction phase and 16 people to maintain the wind farm.

“They’re predominantly people with electrical and mechanical trades,” Mr Wickham said.

Turbines will boost Colac economy

by Jennifer Chiu

A NEW wind farm near Colac will add diversity to the region’s economy, the city’s mayor says.

The State Government has approved a 63-turbine wind farm at Mount Gellibrand, north-east of Colac, and construction is set to start in March.

Colac Otway Shire mayor Stephen Hart welcomed the State Government’s decision.

“It will create about 200 jobs during construction and 16 permanent jobs afterwards, which will be an economic benefit for both landholders and the local community in general,” Cr Hart said.

“There wasn’t that degree of opposition and concern with this project and it really adds some diversity to the local economy,” he said.

The State Government has transferred the responsibility of approving future wind farms to municipal councils.

Cr Hart said the duty would place a costly burden on councils.

“We may get one every six years or so, and it can be very costly if it goes to VCAT,” he said.

“It’s very difficult for a small council to assess these applications and if you have

to staff experts it can be very costly.

“We would prefer if it was assessed by the State Government.”

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