Wind farm decision up in the air

KENDALL O'CONNORGreat Southern Herald

The fate of a large wind farm project proposed in the Kojonup and Broomehill-Tambellup shires could be decided today when the Great Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel meets to pass judgment on the proposal by alternative energies developer Moonies Hill Energy.

JDAP panellists meet in Tambellup to discuss Moonies Hill’s proposal for the Flat Rocks Wind Farm project, which if supported, includes a plan to install more than 74 wind turbines standing up to 140m high occupying land across both shires.

Kojonup Shire Council supported the project at a special meeting in November 2011, but progress was interrupted when JDAP came into existence late the same year, meaning the Broomehill- Tambellup Shire was unable to take a position on the proposed $130 million project Moonies Hill hopes to be commissioned in mid-2014.

Kojonup Shire president Jane Trethowan said the Flat Rocks Wind Farm project could provide economic benefits to the town instead of relying solely on agriculture.

JDAP’s role is to provide independent advice on development planning issues valued at more than $7 million.

A previous JDAP meeting held in February this year found inconsistencies with site planning and the proximity of turbines to privately-owned properties.

Members of JDAP include councillors from the Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup, Department of Planning and planning specialists.

Neighbouring property owner Roger Bilney said Friday’s meeting would be a significant step in deciding the outcome of the proposed Flat Rocks project.

“They can’t coexist. If the impact of these turbines is felt away from the area, it’s a huge impact,” he said.

“You try to sell your farm and there’s no buyers; we are in a very unenviable position.”

Other concerns raised in February’s JDAP meeting included impact the wind farm could have on agricultural aerial spraying, health issues and development of property in surrounding areas.

JDAP will make a decision regarding the future of the project in Broomehill-Tambellup.

According to Moonies Hill, the renewable energy project could supply the energy needs of more than 90,000 homes. As a result, it would remove 480,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

Moonies Hill expects the lifespan of the project, if given the go ahead, to be 30 years.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails