June 7, 2016
A 350MW wind farm located 50km south-west of Kingaroy could be adding electricity to Queensland’s power grid by 2020 … and construction could begin as soon as next year.
The State Government announced on Tuesday that AGL’s proposed Coopers Gap wind farm had been declared a “coordinated project”, terminology that signifies its significant status to Queensland but does not imply government approval or support.
State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the $500 million project would include up to 115 wind turbines and be Queensland’s largest wind farm if it went ahead.
AGL currently operates large wind farms in South Australia and Victoria.
Dr Lynham said the Coopers Gap project would create up to 350 jobs during the construction phase and ongoing employment for up to 20 people.
Draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement (EIS) are now being prepared following the gazettal of the “coordinated project” status.
“Public consultation is an integral element of the EIS process,” Dr Lynham said.
“Depending on the Coordinator-General’s evaluation, construction could start in late 2017 and take two and half years, making it operational by 2020.
“If AGL proceeds, this would be one of Australia’s largest green energy producers, and support our policy to generate half of Queensland’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030.”
The wind farm has the potential to supply power to about 180,000 households; 350MW is equivalent to one unit at Tarong Power Station.
Deputy Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the announcement meant the benefits of the project to the local community could now be properly assessed.
“While the project has the potential to make a significant economic contribution, I have made it clear to AGL that I expect them to maximise the benefits to the Kingaroy community through local employment and procurement opportunities,” she said.
However, Mrs Frecklington said she was concerned the State Government was yet to release a framework to manage the impacts of wind farms, especially noise.
“Residents in my community have raised concerns about noise, especially residents whose neighbours (will) have wind turbines,” she said.
“This project will now be subject to an environmental impact statement process, and I will be constantly monitoring to ensure any identified issues are properly considered and addressed.
“I would encourage local residents and businesses to get involved in the public consultation process on the draft terms of reference once they are released by the Coordinator-General.”
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said Coopers Gap was an exciting project “so long as the various issues that have been expounded by different parties are taken into consideration”.
He said AGL representatives would be coming to Kingaroy next Wednesday to brief councillors about the project.
The meeting would be held after the regular Council meeting closed.
Mayor Campbell said Council had not been asked to express an opinion so far but “the possibility of the project creating new jobs and work within our manufacturing industries would not be unwelcome”.
And he believed the employment opportunities would be openly supported by South Burnett residents.
However, he noted the previous Council had suggested a buffer zone around wind farm projects.
“The people that have been expressing a concern with noise have to be properly attended to,” he said.