AGL Energy’s Hallett Wind Farm at Bluff Range in South Australia (Photo: AGL)

March 3, 2017

The $500 million Coopers Gap Wind Farm looks set to become a reality after the approval on Thursday of its Environmental Impact Statement.

The wind farm will be the largest in Queensland when it goes on line, possibly in 2020.

The project still has more formalities to go through but stakeholders appear confident construction could possibly start this year.

An estimated 115 turbine towers – 120 metres tall, excluding the blades – will be built across 10 properties midway between Kingaroy and Dalby.

Project developers AGL Energy estimate the power output from the finished wind farm will be 460MW, more than the coal-fired Tarong North power station.

The project is forecast to create 350 jobs during construction and 20 permanent jobs once it is operational.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was approved by the Office of the Coordinator-General,  however he did place conditions on the approval, including noise compliance and testing, shadow flicker compliance and offsets for flora and fauna disturbance.

AGL Managing Director and CEO Andy Vesey said the EIS approval was an important step forward for the project.

“Coopers Gap Wind Farm will provide economic as well as environmental benefits for the local region and the State. We are looking forward to continuing the project’s development, and to working with the local community on fine-tuning the details,” Mr Vesey said.

The OCG’s report will now be used by the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning in its assessment of a Development Application for the project.

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said it was a win for jobs and businesses in the local area, and for the environment.

“AGL has advised it will employ local people and use local contractors from across the Wide Bay Burnett and Darling Downs wherever possible,” he said.

“This project will contribute up to $4 million each year to the local economy.”

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AGL has been hoping that the Coopers Gap Wind Farm would be the next greenfield renewable development offered to the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF).

PARF is a partnership between AGL, QIC and the Future Fund, which is targeting the development of approximately 1000MW of large-scale renewable energy projects.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met with AGL Chief Executive Officer Andy Vesey on Thursday afternoon after the EIS announcement.

She confirmed Coopers Gap will be part of the PARF.

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Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington also welcomed the release of the Coordinator-General’s report.

“As I’ve consistently said since I was first elected in 2012, should this project go ahead it could create up to 350 construction jobs and ongoing employment for up to 20 people in the region,” she said.

“I am pleased that my push for jobs to be offered to local people has been successful.

“The EIS notes that during the construction phase, AGL has committed to maximising local employment and local contractors. They have also committed to a local ongoing workforce, which means one full-time job for every four to six wind turbines.

“My next push will be for the full-time jobs to be based in the South Burnett and I will be making this clear to AGL during future discussions.

“In regards to noise levels, I have always said this was a concern, especially for those people who will be neighbours to the wind farm.

“The Coordinator-General notes that some submissions to the EIS process also raised these concerns and he has stated conditions for AGL to meet.

“These include that AGL must provide an updated noise impact assessment prior to construction to confirm the noise modelling they have presented in the EIS.

“There must also be a noise monitoring plan for approval prior to construction to demonstrate that the wind farm will operate in compliance with the noise limits.

“A further stated condition is for noise monitoring to be undertaken at three months and again at 12 months following the wind farm being fully operational.”

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Premier Palaszczuk said the wind farm – along with three large-scale solar projects near Collinsville, Oakey and Longreach – represented a $700 million investment in Queensland energy projects and in regional jobs.

“My government is committed to ensuring the security of Queensland’s future energy needs through a mix of coal and gas-fired power stations, along with a growing share for large-scale renewable energy projects,” she said.

“The confidence shown in Queensland’s renewable future by these leading energy companies, from overseas and interstate, shows that my government’s policy settings have created an environment ripe for serious and sustainable investment.

“These projects underline the vital role that regional Queensland is already playing in our transition to a renewable energy economy.”

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FLASHBACK: A photomontage from 2012 showing how the proposed Coopers Gap Wind Farm would appear from Niagara Road looking west, taken from AGL’s Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment

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The general area where the Coopers Gap wind farm will be developed (Map: State Government)

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