Wednesday, August 13, 2008

South Burnett poised to host power generator giant

Glenis Green
The Courier Mail. August 14, 2008 12:00am

THE South Burnett region is poised to become home to the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, with plans for the $1.2 billion facility
The Coopers Gap Wind Farm, proposed for the Bilboa and Cooranga North region, almost midway between Kingaroy and Dalby, will consist of up to 252 wind turbine generators spread over 10 large grazing properties, producing enough power for 320,000 homes.

The developer - international specialist banking group Investec Bank (Australia) working in conjunction with CSIRO-established Windlab Systems - will lodge a development application for the project with both Dalby and South Burnett regional councils by the end of this month.

 This follows the finalisation of feasibility studies and positive feedback from stakeholder and community consultation. Unlike other parts of Australia where wind farms have generated ongoing protests, the South Burnett community is welcoming the Coopers Gap project with open arms.

Richard Castellari from Investec's project development team said yesterday that about 200 locals attended an open day last weekend to showcase the scheme. "In general there was overwhelming support for the project and no real negative comments," he said.

Dalby Mayor Ray Brown said he spotted only one protester at last weekend's open day "and it was a woman who wanted a wind turbine on her property too".

Cr Brown said that with landholders getting tax deductible compensation to the tune of $10,000 per turbine annually, some farmers with up to 50 towers on their farm could be boosting their bottom lines by about $500,000 a year.

Cr Brown said because of the isolated nature of the site, noise was not a big issue, with the closest homes to a turbine still being 750-900m away.

He said the two councils' assessment of the project would centre on excising 40m x 40m square separate titles from the overall wind farm footprint on rural properties and ensuring legislation was in place for the titles to revert back to their origins if the project did not proceed or it closed down in the future.

Ian Sinnamon, who expects to have about a third of the turbines on his 4050ha Niagara Road property, said a wind farm was "the most basic common sense thing you could think of".

The turbines will be about 135m high to the tip of the 52m blades with a rotor diameter of 104m.

Electricity generated from each turbine will be transmitted to a central substation next to major power lines that run through the site and connect to the grid.

Investec has said the wind farm would reduce green house gas emissions by up to 2.2 million tonnes a year.

Pending development approval, work could start on the wind farm late next year with turbine installation in mid to late 2010 and commissioning by 2011.

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