Victoria’s Labor government has used the occasion of officially green lighting a new wind farm to underline its support for wind energy development in the state, describing it as a boon to regional economies and a key plank of its plan to tackle climate change.
“There’s nothing ugly about wind farms, because there’s nothing ugly about jobs,” said Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday, speaking at the official announcement of government approval for the 270MW Dundonnell Wind Farm Project in Victoria’s Western District.
Approval of the 96-turbine, $650 million wind farm was first confirmed in early July by the project’s New Zealand owner, Trust Power.
Trust Power said the project – which was initiated by a group of local landholders, but also met with some local opposition – had won approval after a thorough Environment Effects Statement process that resulted in a reduction in overall turbine numbers and the creation of buffer zones around wetlands.
Dundonnell Wind Farm is also significant in that was the first wind farm project to seek planning approval after the Andrews government relaxed laws introduced by Victoria’s previous Coalition government that prevented turbines being built within 1km of a home without consent from residents.
In a statement on Tuesday, the government said the progress of the Dundonnell project and others like it reflected the confidence renewable companies now had in Victoria.
“The Andrews Labor government streamlined windfarm approvals early last year, which has revived Victoria’s renewable industry after the Liberals almost killed it,” said minister for planning Richard Wynne on Tuesday.
“Windfarms are expected to attract $35 billion worth of investment nationally by 2020, which is great for jobs, the environment and protecting our way of life.”
Dundonnell wind farm is expected to create 300 direct and indirect jobs during construction, and up to 16 positions when operational. It will also generate 1,000GWh of clean energy a year, enough to power about 140,000 homes.
According to Trust Power chief Vince Hawksworth, construction on Dundonnell could begin in the second half of 2017, with production commencing in 2018.