Northern Grampians Shire will soon be the site of a new $465-million wind farm.
Council approved a planning permit application from global wind energy company Enerfin on Monday for a 63-turbine development at Bulgana and Great Western.
Mayor Murray Emerson said the permit represented a large investment in the shire’s economy.
‘‘The wind farm is worth about $465 million, which we believe will inject lots of economic benefit into the community,’’ he said.
Cr Emerson said the decision was made after an exhaustive process.
He said there were a number of people who objected to the project.
‘‘They are quite within their rights to do so,’’ he said.
Cr Emerson said all objections council received were thoroughly considered.
‘‘Council takes its role as a responsible authority very seriously,’’ he said.
‘‘We have looked carefully at all the issues raised and resolved to issue the permit with a number of conditions.
‘‘We undertook site visits and a number of briefings prior to a decision being made and gathered as much information and documentation as we possibly could.
‘‘Developments of this size and nature don’t come to rural councils often and although we were not swayed by the economic benefits of the project, it would have been remiss of us not to consider them.’’
The permit will be granted to Bulgana Wind Farm – an Australian subsidiary of Enerfin.
Cr Emerson said council had been working on the project for about 18 months.
‘‘For those who aren’t happy with the decision, there is still the option of taking the project to Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, so it’s not all over and done with yet,’’ he said.
Cr Emerson said the benefits of the project would extend far beyond obvious environmental wins.
‘‘There will be significant positive economic and social outcomes for our community as a result of this project and these were an important consideration in our decision,’’ he said.
The project approval comes after the state government announced new wind farm planning laws on Friday.
Under the changes, any new wind farm planning application will rest with the planning minister rather than councils, and buffer zones between houses and turbines will be reduced from two kilometres to one kilometre.
Cr Emerson said the changes should not affect the Bulgana Wind Farm project.
The proposal involves 63 individual turbines with between two and four megawatts of power each.
Enerfin representative Brett Thomas told council last year the project would create between 300 and 400 construction jobs and between 15 and 20 continuing jobs.
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