Tasmanian 130 MW project begins construction

Construction of Hydro Tasmania's 130 MW Woolnorth wind station in remote north-west Tasmania will begin this month after gaining its final approvals in September. The project was delayed more than 12 months by protracted planning appeals due to requirements that it gain approvals from all three tiers of Australian government. The project includes 46 kilometres of new 110 kV transmission line. The federal government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) was triggered due to the plant's proximity to the migratory path of the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot and to habitat frequented by the endangered Wedge Tailed Eagle. Hydro Tasmania's Andrew Pattle says that Commonwealth approval for the project under EPBCA was a "major milestone" due to the rigorous assessment process. "It required huge effort to prove conclusively that the wind farm posed absolutely negligible risk" to the endangered birds' populations, says Pattle. The 10.5 MW, A$27 million Stage 1 of the project will be fully commissioned by June 2002. It is being constructed by Vestas and local Tasmania company Shaw Contracting and will utilise Vestas V66 turbines. An announcement on subsequent stages is expected in early 2002. Tasmania's electricity retailer Aurora Energy is responsible for the dedicated 22 kV distribution feeder which will be used in the interim before a 110 kV transmission line is constructed later to cope with the full-sized wind farm.

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