TWO major south-west wind farms are to become reality after a green light from the state government.
Union Fenosa Wind Australia has secured planning permit extensions for projects at Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner, about 10 kilometres north of Port Fairy.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy’s decision to grant the extensions goes against the wishes of Moyne Shire Council, which agreed in August the developer should not be given more time.
Early construction works on the $477 million wind farms is now due to begin by next March.
Before making his decision, Mr Guy had asked Moyne councillors for their views on a permit extension. While shire mayor Jim Doukas could not be contacted for comment yesterday, in August he described the five-one vote to oppose extra time as a wake-up call for renewable energy proponents.
Mr Guy granted permit extensions in line with transitional arrangements that form part of amendment VC82.
The amendment, gazetted in August, established no-go zones for wind farms and prohibited turbines from being placed closer than two kilometres to a house without permission from its owner.
Union Fenosa said the new policy also ensured that approved and advanced projects like Ryan Corner and Hawkesdale could progress to the construction stage.
Company spokesman Thomas Mitchell said the wind farms would not be subject to new setback rules as they were approved before VC82 was introduced.
Early construction works will include VicRoads-approved entrances to the sites from public roads, compounds for site management team offices and some internal access tracks.
Portland’s GR Carr Construction is to deliver the package at both the 31-turbine Hawkesdale wind farm and the 67-turbine Ryan Corner project, which will together generate 196 megawatts of electricity.
Planning permits for the wind farms were first granted in 2008 and were due to expire in August. The extensions provided by Mr Guy expire in mid-March next year. Mr Mitchell said Union Fenosa’s early works package would trigger a six-year window for project completion at both sites.