150-200 MW Portland Wind Energy Project application

November saw Pacific Hydro submit its planning application and Environmental Effects Statement and Planning Report for its 120 turbine Portland Wind Energy Project (PWEP). The 150-200 MW project involves the establishment of a turbine manufacturing industry in Australia and the location of turbines on four coastal sites spanning two municipalities. The PWEP is the most ambitious Australian project to date and will have far reaching implications for wind development in the south west of Victoria. The environment and planning report is an extensive document which has involved widespread community consultation. Pacific Hydro's Grant Flynn says the company's decision to respond to concerns about the project's potential impact on coastal visual amenity and on the population of the endangered orange-bellied parrot, among other issues, had prolonged the project by five months. "In some ways we may have gone overboard by trying to deal with everything, but we did not want to be accused of not responding to community concerns. As it stands, even our most ardent objectors have been satisfied with the lengths that we have gone to." Pacific Hydro's extensive community education program was not helped by Energy Equity's failed 1998 attempt to gain approval for a wind farm on Cape Bridgewater, a site earmarked for the PWEP. The future of the PWEP will be determined in early 2002 by a Victorian state government planning panel and the commonwealth government which is required to assess the project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act due to the presence of migratory and endangered species. Tenders for the exclusive wind turbine supply agreement have been shortlisted to NEG Micon and Enercon, with a final decision expected in late December. Pacific Hydro's 75 MW Buangor project gained local Ararat council approval in October and will be developed if the PWEP is approved.