Key changes wanted to $2bn wind farm
23rd December, 2020
By Chad Van Estrop, Geelong Advertiser
THE developer of a $2bn wind farm planned for northwest of Geelong wrote to landowners telling them it wanted to expand the project before Australia’s highest court decided it could proceed.
The 228-turbine Golden Plains wind farm at Rokewood — with potential to provide electricity to more than 500,000 homes and save the equivalent of 3.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually — was the subject of a High Court challenge earlier this month.
But a day before the court released its ruling on the 17,000ha wind farm on December 3, Westwind Energy wrote to affected landowners telling them it wanted to change the project’s turbine layout and turbine blade spinning diameter.
A source with knowledge of the wind farm said if approved the changes would maximise the project’s output.
It comes after a Victorian Court of Appeal ruling, hinted it would need to be scaled back to meet environmental conditions. It’s understood the reduction could see the project dropped to 181 turbines.
The project was allowed to proceed by the High Court on December 3 but the changes Westwind is seeking are yet to be ruled on by the state government.
Westwind wants to increase the diameter at which turbine blades spin from 150m to 165m, and retain the 230m maximum blade spinning height. It is also proposing to modify the project’s turbine layout, which it said would better comply with restrictions to protect the brolga that breed in the area.
When complete, the wind farm could contribute more than half of Victoria’s legislated renewable energy production target, of 40 per cent, by 2025, court documents say.
Westwind Energy told the Geelong Advertiser this year it planned to begin construction of the project in the second half of 2021, and the first stage could include up to 125 turbines.
In a letter to residents this month, Westwind said it would engage with the community to provide detailed information about the amendment early next year.
“Golden Plains Wind Farm Management is lodging an application to amend (the) planning permit for the Golden Plains Wind Farm (and) … expects to lodge the application for the amendment in December, with an objective to obtain an amendment approval from the Victorian Minister of Planning in the second half of 2021,” a letter read.
Landowners around Rokewood who house turbines on their properties stand to gain thousands of dollars per turbine.
Westwind was approached for comment but was unable to respond to questions.