Wind farm gets green light

KENDALL O'CONNORGreat Southern Herald

Wind turbines could be operating in the Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup within three years after a controversial wind farm was given the green light by an assessment panel last week.

The Great Southern Joint Development Assessment Panel met in Tambellup last Friday and gave Moonies Hill Energy conditional approval for the Broomehill section of the proposed Flat Rocks Wind Farm.

Moonies Hill Energy director Sarah Rankin said the announcement eased a lot of uncertainty over the project.

“There are still a few hurdles that need to be worked through, including the grid connection and financing,” she said.

Dr Rankin said Moonies Hill Energy was still finalising the technology for the wind farm, which could start construction in late 2014, early 2015.

She said the decision would bring benefits to the local economy and Broomehill-Tambellup shire.

“We have had contact from local workers that are interested and we expect that between 100-150 people will be employed for the construction, though not all at one time,” she said.

Dr Rankin also highlighted that workers would be brought into the area, with local businesses and accommodation providers benefiting.

However, there are concerns the wind turbine project could negatively impact on health and create difficulties for farmers.

Project opponent Roger Bilney said although he was still against the project, he wished for the best outcome for the community.

“The neighbours presented in detail their concerns to the JDAP, but at the end of the day we failed to convince them of the merits of our concerns and whilst I disagree with them, I respect the decision,” he said.

“Whilst my view has neither changed nor diminished, I hope that the project, if it proceeds, brings the benefits promised to the community and that the concerns held by the neighbours of the wind farm prove to be unfounded.”

Landowner Alex Cant is set to have 12 turbines on his Broomehill property spread over 700 acres and is pleased with the outcome.

“I had visited properties in South Australia with wind farms and in the end I couldn’t see anything wrong with them,” he said.

“I know there has been a lot of angst against it but I can see a lot of positives to be honest. They cut down on pollution and I actually don’t mind the look of them.”

Turbines proposed to be located in the Shire of Kojonup as part of the Flat Rocks Wind Farm were approved by Kojonup Shire Council in November 2011 before the establishment of joint assessment panels.

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