Stockyard Hill wind farm gets go ahead

THE largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere will be built at Stockyard Hill, 35 kilometres west of Ballarat.The green light was given for the planning of a 157-turbine wind farm yesterday, although the approved number of turbines was cut back from the proposed 242.The farm will generate 471 megawatts of renewable energy each year, enough to power more than 250,000 homes.The approval for the full number of turbines was not given because of the assessed impact on wildlife and neighbouring houses.Planning Minister Justin Madden said the impact on the Brolga population and neighbouring Mawallock homestead were strong factors in the reduced approval number.Origin Energy, who lodged the proposal, welcomed the grant of the planning permits although it had previously lodged for an additional 85 turbines.General manager major development projects Andrew Stock said he would look into the reasons as to why full approval was not given."There are some differences between our final proposal and what was recommended and approved, and we will carefully consider the panel report to understand its reasoning," he said.Member for Ripon Joe Helper welcomed the approval for the planning permits for the $1 billion wind farm.He said 665 jobs would be created once construction started and 30 jobs would be retained permanently once construction was complete.Not all parties are satisfied with the decision however.Western Plains Landscape Guardians spokeswoman Cassie Franzose said despite consideration being given to nature, the effect would still be devastating."We're not satisfied at all. Health issues have not been taken into account and people are going to have these turbines very close to their homes," she said."It's still massive and it is still going to make the area unlivable."There are many other wetlands and waterbird species that are going to be affected."

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