THE developer of a multibillion-dollar wind farm north west of Geelong, expected to be the southern hemisphere’s largest when complete, is progressing project plans in the face of potential for another legal challenge against it.
Wind farm developer WestWind Energy said $5m would be spent on road and bridge upgrades at Rokewood, about 70km from Geelong, in preparation for construction of the wind farm.
But mechanical engineer Hamish Cumming – behind three years of legal wrangling over the project due to its potential impact on bird habitat – is considering another legal challenge.
It also follows Planning Minister Richard Wynne’s change to a development law in an attempt to torpedo Mr Cumming’s previous legal action against the project.
Mr Cumming will have until July 19 to decide if he challenges Mr Wynne's decision to change the Golden Plains Planning Scheme to allow the wind farm to go ahead without a permit.
His solicitor, Dominica Tannock, said her clients were still considering their position.
“No decision has been made as they are getting advice from senior counsel,” Ms Tannock said.
“WestWind and? TagEnergy commence works at their own risk.” WestWind Energy expects the wind farm to provide energy for more than 750,000 homes, and require 750 workers during construction and 40 during operation.
The wind farm, expected to cost $2bn-$3bn, has the potential to save the equivalent of 4.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and contribute more than half Victoria’s legislated renewable energy production target of 40?per cent by 2025.
Golden Plains Wind Farm Management managing director Tobias Geiger said the “entire community would benefit from significantly improved roads.” “The amendment (to the planning scheme) has given us increased confidence as we kick-off this phase of ancillary roadworks and will assist our equity sponsor and wind farm operator TagEnergy to secure finance for development of the project,” Mr Geiger said.
“We thank the Rokewood community for coming out in force to support the project. “They have waited eight long years for it to come to fruition and we can’t wait to get started on construction.” Golden Plains Wind Farm Management said works would be completed along 12km of Geggies Rd, including the Ferrars Creek Bridge, and along Bells Rd in Rokewood.