NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council has given the green light for one of the municipality's biggest infrastructure projects.
Council resolved to issue a permit for development of the Bulgana wind farm at a specially convened meeting in Stawell, on Monday.
The permit will be granted to Bulgana Wind Farm Pty Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of global wind energy company Enerfin.
Construction of the 63 turbine wind energy facility will occur in the areas of Concongella, Bulgana, Great Western, Joel Joel and Joel South.
The individual turbines will be between two MW and four MW capacity each, with the overall construction cost estimated at $465 million.
Mayor, Cr Murray Emerson said the decision had been made after an exhaustive process where all objections received were thoroughly considered.
"Council takes its role as a responsible authority very seriously. We have looked carefully at all the issues raised and resolved to issue the permit with a number of conditions attached," he said.
"We undertook site visits and a number of briefings prior to a decision being made and gathered as much information and documentation as we possibly could.
"All of this was considered in great detail in the lead up to Council's decision."
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion moved by Cr Wayne Rice to issue the planning permit.
Cr Rice said he was satisfied with the outcome of various investigations into flora, fauna and native vegetation impacts, noise impacts and the possibility of health impacts.
"This is one of the biggest planning applications that I have seen come before council in my 10 year term," he said.
"I have never in my time on council received so much information.
"I didn't see anything new in any of the objections that would make me believe that this project should not go ahead.
"When we look at the economic benefits of what this will bring to the Northern Grampians Shire, I don't think we can dismiss this."
"I think the benefits far out weigh the disadvantages and the number of objections we've received, so I am happy to support it."
Cr Rice said the Bulgana wind farm has the potential to create between 300 and 400 jobs in the construction phase and maintain 15 to 20 jobs in the long term.
"I would only hope that the community, business people of this Shire, get behind this, see the opportunity to capitalise on some of this and go for it.
"I think the benefits will be here for the long term."
Rising to speak in support of the motion, Cr Kevin Erwin said the Bulgana wind farm was the single biggest planning proposal he had encountered during his time as a councillor.
"This is by far the largest application that we have had into this municipality, probably the most complex as well," he said.
"I'm comfortable that all of the issues have been addressed and that plans will be put in place to make sure that the overall benefit is to the community and not a backward step."
Cr Emerson said the benefits of the project would extend far beyond the obvious environmental wins.
"Developments of this size and nature don't come to rural Councils very often and although we were not swayed by the economic benefits of the project, it would have been remiss of us not to consider them," he said.
"There will be significant positive economic and social outcomes for our community as a result of this project and these were an important consideration in our decision.
"A project like this goes a long way towards achieving our Council Plan goal around sustainable energy and our overall aim of creating a better lifestyle and environment for the people of the Northern Grampians."
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