The state government of Victoria, Australia has given planning approval to WestWind Energy for the construction of Golden Plains Wind Farm.

Golden Plains

Image: Australian state approves $1bn wind farm. Photo: Courtesy of Martin Boose/FreeImages.com.

Located 60km north-west of Geelong, the wind farm will sprawl over an area of up to 17,000 hectares and will have a capacity to generate nearly 3,000GWh of electricity per year, which is enough to power more than 400,000 homes. The project is estimated to cost A$1.5bn ($1.07bn).

WestWind Energy stated that the approval is critical for the development of the Golden Plains wind farm, which will include up to 228 wind turbines.

The wind farm will also help to avoid more than three million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Construction phase of the wind farm will create over 700 jobs and the operational phase will create nearly 70 permanent jobs.

The approval has been given after extensive Environment Effects Statement and Planning Permit processes that included full review and public hearing by an independent Inquiry Panel.

The review found that the project will generate net community benefit could significant contribute towards sustainable development of the state.

WestWind Energy managing director Tobi Geiger said: “The Minister’s approval of the project is great news and paves the way for further valuable investment into the local region.

“This project will provide the equivalent annual power output of 1/3 of the recently closed Hazelwood coal fired power generator, while providing drought proof income to 40 host landholders. This, along with a substantial community benefits program, will ensure the local community benefits directly from this project.”

The Victoria government stated that the wind farm could face turbine reduction from 228 to 181, which is 47, with the number depending on how the proponent chooses to meet environmental restrictions.

The wind farm is now subject to the federal government approval. Construction of the wind farm could take around four years, if approved.

Upon completion, the wind farm is expected to generate between 8 -10% of Victoria’s electricity consumption.