Rokewood could soon become a boom town, with 700 construction jobs up for grabs to install wind turbines following the federal government's approval for the Golden Plains Wind Farm.
According to the company, a further 70 ongoing jobs will be created when the project becomes operational.
On Thursday, federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley signed off on the enviornment protection and biodiversity conservation act approval, one of the final steps in the process.
Its estimated construction will begin in late 2020 or early 2021 - the project will now go through a secondary consent process, secure finances, and lodge grid connection applications with the energy market operator.
The current plan is for no more than 228 turbines around Rokewood, each no higher than 230 metres at their tallest.
The final layout of the turbines is still being finalised, with field surveys to be completed.
Among other protections for native wildlife and plants, the federal approval notes 44.1 hectares of Striped Legless Lizard (Delmar impar) and Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) habitats must not be impacted - that is, a measurable direct or indirect disturbance or change that occurs as a result of any activity associated with the action of the project.
The planning permit was approved by the Victorian government in January - that permit is the subject of an ongoing Supreme Court case between some Rokewood residents and the state government.
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Project proponent WestWind's managing director Tobi Geiger was keen to emphasise the community benefits from the project.
"This project will provide the equivalent annual power output of one-third of the recently closed Hazelwood coal fired power generator, while providing drought-proof income to host landholders," he said in a statement.
"This, along with substantial community benefit programs, will ensure the local community and Victorians benefit directly from this project."
It's expected that when complete, the project will cut three million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, and power 500,000 homes, according to WestWind.
Homes in Rokewood and surrounds will receive free energy, and WestWind has also promised to contribute to a community fund to support not-for-profit groups in the town.
In the mean time, Rokewood shopkeeper and Golden Plains Shire councillor Helena Kirby said she'll have to plan ahead for the rush of new business in town.
"We get a lot of people calling into the shop and asking when the wind farm will be starting, and a lot of people within the shire have been asking about jobs for local people," she said.
"That'll be a good thing for those residents looking for work."
The Committee for Ballarat is also keen to capitalise on the massive, $1.5 billion investment in the area - chief executive Michael Poulton said the planned Asia Pacific Renewable Energy Training Centre, for which Federation University recently held a pilot course for wind farm maintenance technicians, would be an important part of making sure ongoing jobs stayed local.
"We see a great opportunity for ongoing maintenance and in the tech sector - it's really important we continue to see investment in that space," he said.
"Someone's got to get them going, and someone's got to maintain them, so there's an opening there for an industry."
A state government spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment on the ongoing court case, and noted the EPBC approval is separate to the state government approvals.
A press release from WestWind noted the Environment Effects Statement and Planning Permit processes included a full review and public hearing by an independent Inquiry Panel.
"The Inquiry Panel recommended the approval of the Wind Farm subject to the inclusion of a turbine free buffer zone to better protect the Victorian Brolga population," it reads.
"Overall their findings concluded that the project will have a net community benefit and will make a significant contribution towards the sustainable development of the state."
Community consultation on the project will continue, and a WestWind spokesperson added an open day was held last month.
"We are working hard to keep the local community and landholders updated throughout the process," they said.
"We now have a second community engagement officer in Rokewood, every month, for face to face meetings with the local community."
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