Turbine power gets green light

THE Lal Lal Wind Farm in the Moorabool Shire has been given the go-ahead by Planning Minister Justin Madden.Planning permits were granted yesterday for the controversial farm, which will consist of almost 70 wind turbines.The $350 million project is expected to inject up to $200 million into the local economy, as well as creating many job opportunities."The benefits from this wind farm will flow into the local community," Mr Madden said."It will directly employ 120 people during its construction phase, and create jobs for about 15 skilled workers and other contract staff to operate and service the facility."More than 75,000 homes will benefit from the power generated by the new Lal Lal Wind Farm each year, which will provide over 130 megawatts of power."Moorabool Shire Council mayor Cr Michael Tudball said he hoped the minister had considered concerns held by local residents, including the effect on local flora and fauna, the ability for the turbines to link into existing power grids, flickering, noise and proximity to residential areas."We just hope they've considered all the things Moorabool put into their submission, along with all the community members," he said.However, he welcomed the boost to the local economy.Mr Madden said the decision was based on recommendations from an independent panel's report and an extensive consultation process that involved local communities, the Moorabool council and the developer."The potential greenhouse gas reductions and the economic benefits far outweigh the potential adverse impacts," he said."Community concerns about potential landscape and visual amenity and environmental impacts have been addressed and appropriate conditions have been placed on the planning permits, including landscape, flora and fauna and traffic management requirements."The farm has two sites with the Yendon section comprising 40 turbines, and the Elaine section 24 turbines.Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions member Andrew Bray said he was very happy approval had been given for the project."The increase in the amount of renewable energy available and also the jobs that will flow from it as well are a great benefit to this area," he said."Boosting the amount of approved wind energy in the area really opens the way for Ballarat to become a wind energy hub."