CONSTRUCTION of a wind farm at Woorndoo will begin in March despite Moyne Shire Council denying its extension application in November.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) granted NewEn the extension permit at a hearing last month, after councillors told the proponent it needed to resubmit its application to meet the shire’s policy for major energy projects.
The Salt Creek wind farm, 25 kilometres north of Mortlake, now has until March 15 to break soil and until 2015 to finish construction, with regular meetings taking place with the Moyne Shire.
Cr James Purcell said while VCAT had the authority to make a binding decision and validate the construction permit, the council remained the deciding authority for the project.
“We have ongoing discussions with NewEn in regard to such things as traffic management,” Cr Purcell said.
“The permit is still valid but council is the deciding authority for this because it’s under 30 megawatts.
“If NewEn can get the project under way by the end of March they have two years to complete it.
“We can expect to see works on the ground by that expiry date.”
Cr Purcell said the council’s revised policy stated turbines were not to be located within two kilometres of a dwelling on an adjoining landowner’s land unless an agreement was made.
“The size of the towers is bigger since the original application and each tower has more megawatts, so to get to 29.9 megawatts it could mean they’ll need less turbines than they originally applied for,” Cr Purcell said.
“There’s just one family who are quite opposed to it, but other than that there’s very few houses in that area.”
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the VCAT approval was a positive step forward for the state’s energy projects facing similar hold-ups.
“I’m glad it’s going ahead because wind farms make sense environmentally and economically,” Mr Barber said.
“There are at least eight other previously approved wind farms that could lose their permits if they don’t get a similar extension by March under the state government’s new anti-wind farm policy.”