A new planning application to build the proposed 100 MW Bald Hills wind farm in South Gippsland must be submitted by Wind Power Pty, says Victoria's planning minister Mary Delahunty. Meantime the company's 12 MW Wonthaggi wind farm in the same region has been approved. Delahunty is requesting the new planning application for Bald Hills after Wind Power revised its original application for 84, 1.3 MW turbines with a combined capacity of 109 MW, reducing the number of turbines to 52 and altering their siting while maintaining the same power output by using 2 MW machines. "I consider these changes to be significant and to fall outside acceptable boundaries for amendments to the existing application," says Delahunty. She is also requiring a supplementary Environmental Effects Statement. It is vital the community has confidence in the decision-making processes, she says. Victoria's energy minister, Theo Theophanous agrees. "Building confidence in the community and in industry requires clear guidelines and processes," he says. Wind Power's Steve Buckle says of the changes: "The result is less turbines and a significantly quieter facility than first envisaged. The distance we will get to the nearest resident will now be at least 900 metres and the buffer between the proposed turbines and the Bald Hill Wetland Reserve is now 300 metres. The closest we get to the coast will be two kilometres." He adds: "I make no apologies for listening to what people want and trying where I can to improve our projects." Meanwhile, the company will proceed with the Wonthaggi project of six turbines, although before work can start Wind Power must meet some specific planning permit conditions on layout, visual screening, traffic and environmental management, bird and bat management, noise, security, and aboriginal heritage issues.
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