ONE STEP CLOSER: The proposed wind farm would be one of the largest sites to be built in the southern hemisphere. Photo: Heath Pukallus
ONE STEP CLOSER: The proposed wind farm would be one of the largest sites to be built in the southern hemisphere. Photo: Heath Pukallus

Wide Bay-Burnett wind farm edges closer to approval

ONE of the largest grid-connected wind farms in the southern hemisphere is a step closer for the Wide Bay-Burnett region, with the State Government granting development approval for Forest Wind.

Minister for Planning Cameron Dick said the project, which is proposed to comprise of up to 226 turbines, would provide a huge boost for the local economy.

"If it proceeds, this project could create around 440 jobs during construction and a further 50 full-time jobs during operation," Mr Dick said.

"This is a major clean energy project for Queensland and will contribute to our target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

"Forest Wind has the potential to generate up to 1200 megawatts of electricity at capacity, which is enough to supply one in four Queensland homes.

"This is enough power for all homes across the Wide Bay-Burnett, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast combined," he said.

"The wind farm is proposed to be developed within state forest land between Gympie and Maryborough, a unique location and a great example of coexistence between established southern pine timber plantations that support our forestry industry and new large-scale renewable energy."

Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the project would join Queensland's existing 5500 megawatts of renewable energy capacity.

"Since December 2016, almost $5 billion has been invested in almost 2500MW of new renewable generation in Queensland, creating almost 5000 jobs.

"More generation helps put downward pressure on power prices, and give Queenslanders have the lowest electricity prices on the eastern seaboard."

Forest Wind Holdings chairman James Pennay said the project's location had been carefully selected to take advantage of the plantation's large working environment.

"We have established a three-kilometre separation distance from residents to wind turbines to ensure industry, the local community and the environment can coexist harmoniously," Mr Pennay said.

"We have been undertaking consultation with the local community and stakeholders.

"We are looking forward to continuing that engagement through the next phase of the project's development, including with the Butchulla and Kabi Kabi first nation peoples."

The wind farm, which is valued at around $2 billion, could increase Queensland's installed power generation capacity by approximately nine per cent.