Monday, June 24, 2013

Study go-ahead for King Island wind farm

Hydro Tasmania has been accused of breaking a promise to King Island residents by going ahead with a feasibility study into the southern hemisphere's biggest wind farm.
The 200-turbine TasWind project was put to a vote among the beef and cheese producing island's population of 1500, with 878 responses received.
Nearly 59 per cent have voted to go ahead with the study but opponents of the project say Hydro guaranteed it would not go ahead without 60 per cent support.
'Today's decision by Hydro Tasmania will only create further division in an already divided community,' No TasWind Farm Group chairman Jim Benn said in a statement.
'Near enough is not good enough - 60 is 60, not 58.77.
'Hydro Tasmania's representatives on King Island have repeatedly told residents a feasibility study would only occur if at least 60 per cent of residents surveyed agreed.'
The project's 150-metre turbines will capture the fury of the Roaring Forties and pipe electricity across Bass Strait if they get the go-ahead.
Hydro says 500 jobs will be created during construction and millions pumped into an economy recently hit hard by the closure of one of its major employers, the King Island Beef abattoir.
Spokesman Andrew Catchpole said 60 per cent was never a figure set in stone by the company.
'I know some have implied that the figure of 60 is a number that will determine if the project goes ahead or not,' he said.
'However, we have always said that 60 per cent would be a good indication of broad community support. We got 59 per cent and that is a very good result.'
Mr Catchpole said Hydro would continue to consult with King Islanders as the feasibility study looked at possible locations and the project's economic viability.
'I can only repeat that this project will not proceed without ongoing broad community,' he said.
The Island's mayor, Greg Barratt, says he voted for the study to proceed.
Opponents are concerned about the impact on tourism which they say will grow on the back of the construction of two world class gold courses.