Plans to build one of the largest onshore wind farms in the Southern Hemisphere on government-owned forestry land in Queensland’s Wide Bay-Burnett region are set to be fast-tracked, with the tabling of new legislation in state parliament last week.
The massive 1200MW Forest Wind project, a joint venture between global engineering giant Siemens and project Queensland renewables outfit Clean Sight, was given state government approval in February.
As RenewEconomy reported then, the project proposes to install up to 226 turbines in state forest used as pine plantations between the towns of Gympie and Maryborough, in a similar way to that proposed by French renewable energy developer Neoen, which is looking at a 900MW wind project and battery hub in western Victoria.
State development minister Kate Jones said last week that the introduction of the Forest Wind Development Bill 2020 marked the successful completion of the detailed assessment stage of the $2 billion project, and would work to cut red tape for its developers.
“This project could be an absolute game-changer for Queensland. With the potential to generate up to 1200 megawatts of electricity, it has the potential to supply one in four homes in our state,” Minister Jones said in a statement last week.
“Forest Wind has the potential to be one of the largest grid-connected wind farms in the Southern Hemisphere and could help propel us towards our target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030,” she said.
The detailed, 69-page Bill in particular outlines a pathway for Forest Wind Holdings to obtain tenure to access, occupy, develop and manage the land for the project, and limit the construction and operation of the wind farm to the Toolara, Tuan and Neerdie state forests.
Jones said that developing the wind farm within established southern pine timber plantations between Gympie and Maryborough would maximise the value of land that was already supporting the state’s forestry industry.
“There is one thing that we know well on this side of the House – that the best way to stimulate our economy is not to cut, sack and sell but to invest in our people and to partner with industries and work with the private sector to fast-track new infrastructure projects that create jobs for Queenslanders,” the minister told the Queensland Parliament in a speech introducing the Bill last Wednesday.
“This is exactly the kind of project we need to get Queensland’s economy moving again. This $2 billion project could not have come at a better time as we work hard to turbine-charge the Queensland economy.
“We will continue to partner with the private sector to cut red tape and fast-track major infrastructure projects just like this wind farm in the Wide Bay to create jobs for Queenslanders,” she told Parliament.
Jones said the project was being advanced through the government’s Exclusive Transactions framework. The Bill was referred to committee.
RenewEconomy and its sister sites One Step Off The Grid and The Driven will continue to publish throughout the Covid-19 crisis, posting good news about technology and project development, and holding government, regulators and business to account. But as the conference market evaporates, and some advertisers pull in their budgets, readers can help by making a voluntary donation here to help ensure we can continue to offer the service free of charge and to as wide an audience as possible. Thankyou for your support.