One of the most remarkable events in Australian development history is expected may begin some time next year: the construction of the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.
The extraordinary thing about this is that it will take place in at least five different locations around Australia.
The latest project claiming to be the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere will take place on King Island off the coast of Tasmania.
The largest ever will also be built just outside Broken Hill near the NSW-South Australia border.
Curiously, the largest of all time will soon be completed in south-western Victoria.
That won’t prevent the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere from rising out of the ground in NSW near Goulburn.
We can expect further announcements in 2014, with more new projects claiming to dwarf all others.
When it comes to wind farm development, you don’t let the facts get in the way of a good press release. Nor does it stop journalists from cheerfully repeating the “largest in the southern hemisphere” claims as fact. Why bother to check? They wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true, would they?
Fortunately, wind farm developers don’t let mass hysteria get in the way either. There are few types of construction projects that have been blamed for a greater array of bizarre events than wind farms.
It’s amazing how many people with dodgy mental health or suffering from sleeping disorders can find a wind turbine to blame. Cows have been known to lose the ability to give milk and chooks living within pecking distance of a wind farm steadfastly refuse to lay.
Property values go into meltdown if subjected to the sight, sound or subliminal suggestion of a wind farm. County roads crumble in protest and lives are destroyed by the mere sight of them.
It’s a lot to overcome and to make it harder, a couple of the more rabid state governments have bowed to yokel pressure and passed laws that are tantamount to banning them altogether.
Coal-fired power station? No problem.
Lead smelter? Knock yourself out.
Uranium mine? How can we help?
But an environmentally sustainable source of renewable energy? Everyone run for your lives!
Thank god some companies are willing to persevere because, apart of the environmental side effects, wind farms create substantial economic benefits and can turn meandering property markets into hotspots.
Two wind farms created in south-west Victoria by developer AGL (Macarthur and Oaklands) are claimed to have injected $67 million into the local economy, with close to 1,000 people employed during the construction phases, plus 52 ongoing jobs.
The newly announced King Island project will cost around $2 billion and the construction of its 200 turbines will provide a desperately needed economic boost to struggling Tasmania. It is far from the being the largest in planning in Australia, but Tassie could certainly use the leg up this project will provide, including 500 construction jobs.
Regional markets that have risen thanks, in part at least, to wind farm development include Portland, Warrnambool and Goulburn. Locations expected to be boosted by upcoming developments include Broken Hill, Dubbo, Glen Innes, Ballarat and Kingaroy.
As an aside, a Senate committee last week found that noise from wind farms was no different from other noise, discounted claims of health impacts and declined to support calls for tougher planning regulations.
So there’s hoping that the half dozen projects that share the title of largest south of the equator will happen and we’ll all benefit, apart from ultra-light sleepers, people who can hear silent dog whistles and owners of temperamental chickens.
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