Construction on the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, Golden Plains Wind Farm, will start in Victoria next year after the state’s Planning Minister quietly approved the $2 billion facility after years of legal challenges by local farmers.
Boasting almost twice as many turbines and be roughly double the megawatt capacity of Coopers Gap Wind Farm in Queensland, which is currently Australia’s largest, Golden Plains Wind Farm will produce enough power for more than 765,000 homes each year.
The wind farm site at Rokewood, 130km west of Melbourne, will cover 167sq km and its 230m turbines will be almost as tall as Melbourne’s Rialto Towers.
Operator WestWind says it will start project construction mid-2022. Under the plan, WestWind will give annual payments to neighbours, starting at $1000 per turbine to those who live within two kilometres of them.
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“We appreciate that all major infrastructure projects have some impacts to the communities in which they are constructed,” a spokesperson said.
“We are grateful to the local community who have worked with us over the past five years while the Golden Plains Wind Farm has been in development, irrespective of their personal opinion of the project.”
A number of local farmers have led court challenges against WestWind over the project since 2019. WestWind was initially given a permit for 228 turbines, although this number was reportedly slashed to 181 to protect the habitat of native brolgas.
However, the final planning scheme was approved with a provision for 215 turbines in a layout that WestWind said was still being finalised.