TWO controversial wind farm developments at Hawkesdale and Yambuk ha ve been approved by Planning Minister Matthew Guy after months of negotiation.
Spanish proponents Union Fenosa announced yesterday that work on the two sites w ould start as early as next month, ahead of state government reforms of the renewable energy sector.
More than $500 million will be pumped into the two projects, one which is located in farmland south-east of Hawkesdale and the other between Yambuk and Orford.
Union Fenosa managing director Domingo Asuero said the company would provide site possession to Portland-based GR Carr Construction. He said early works on the sites would start within weeks.
The two projects will generate a combined 196 megawatts of renewable electricity, enough to power the needs of about 80,000 houses.
Planning works stalled last year after Moyne councillors voted to reject a permit extension in August due to an apparent lack of consultation between Union Fenosa and the shire.
Moyne Shire mayor Jim Doukas said he hoped Union Fenosa had responded to concerns raised by the municipality and had acted accordingly. He said he would need further details before commenting further.
"If the planning minister and Union Fenosa have acknowledged and acted on the concerns raised by council then that's fine but they haven't informed us as yet," Cr Doukas said.
Yambuk farmer Kieron Moore supported the move and said the new project would generate jobs in the region.
Many of the turbines will be erected on Mr Moore's property, situated north-east of Yambuk.
"The minister has taken a commonsense approach," Mr Moore said.
"Wind farms have been operating in Yambuk for more than 10 years and they are accepted by the community."
Regional Cities Minister Denis Napthine said the state government's decision to approve proposals drafted prior to the 2010 state election was a fair way of treating both developers and landholders.
However, he said the two-kilometre wind turbine buffer zone policy was popular in regional Victoria.
"It's interesting to note that the South Australian Labor government and the Coalition government in NSW have both adopted turbine setback in one form or another," Dr Napthine said.
"The state government has worked to ensure we struck the right balance between the interests of farmers and landholders as well as the interest of expanding renewable energy in the region."