FINAL STAGES: AGL Energy will soon submit its final EIS on the Coopers Gap Wind Farm.
FINAL STAGES: AGL Energy will soon submit its final EIS on the Coopers Gap Wind Farm. Clive Lowe

Kingaroy wind farm reaches final approval stages

BRINGING new economic development to rural communities is no easy feat, but an avenue farmers can count on when the rain won't fall is one step closer to becoming a reality for the South Burnett.

The proposed Coopers Gap Wind Farm near Kingaroy is in its final stages of an EIS, to be submitted to the state government by the end of the year.

If the project is given the green light, it could create up to 350 construction jobs and ongoing employment for the region.

The energy company also announced it was willing to supply all properties within a 2km radius of the proposed wind farms with a 5kw solar power system, giving approximately 30 neighbouring properties relief from power bills.

Porter's Gap grazier John Maher would neighbour the proposed wind farms and said he believed there would be a number of benefits for the community.

"I definitely think there would be better roads and telecommunications in the area, as well as jobs for those in Kingaroy and Dalby," Mr Maher said.

"There's also an income for the farmers who face drought and I think it's a great thing.

"We can't dig up coal forever and the wind and sun cost you nothing."

Following on from the EIS completion, a final investment decision would then be made.

If a success, construction could start in 2017 and take three years to complete.

At a project meeting in Cooranga North last week, AGL Energy revealed it had received 24 submissions from local and state governments as well as landholders for its EIS.

Feedback was mixed, with some concerned with certain aspects of the project, including the impact it could have on road networks and native wildlife and vegetation.

SBRC manager for planning and land management Chris Du Plessis said the council and nearby landholders were supportive of the project.

As part of the council, Mr Du Plessis said he had kept a watchful eye over the project and the impact it would have on the region.

"I'm there making sure that AGL doesn't force the community into a development that will be to their detriment in the long term," Mr Du Plessis said.

"The State Government has brought out a code for wind farm development in Queensland and our view is a wind farm should comply with those conditions."

Aside from development and construction, details, Mr Du Plessis said he saw no further economical, environmental or health issues linked to the project.

"From an economical point of view, there will be a considerable amount of jobs created during the construction period and from ongoing jobs," Mr Du Plessis said.

The next Coopers Gap meeting will be held at the Cooranga North hall on February 9 from 1-3pm.


Coopers Gap proposal a step closer

The proposed wind farm near Kingaroy is one step closer to fruition, with host company AGL Energy in the process of finalising the project's Environmental Impact Statement.

AGL Coopers Gap Wind Farm project manager Evan Carless said public consultation had closed and the company was reviewing submissions.

The Coopers Gap Wind Farm is proposed to have around 400MW, which would produce around 1100GWh of renewable energy, powering more than 190,000 average Australian homes.

The renewable energy produced would reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 860,000 tonnes annually, which is the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road.

AGL received 24 submissions in total, including a number from government agencies and the community, with some addressing noise and potential economic benefits.

The company will now review and update the EIS to address submissions where required before submitting the final EIS to the Coordinator-General by the end of the year.

"From here, the OCG will use our final EIS to prepare its report, which will enable a final determination," Mr Carless said.

"This is to be expected early next year."

"While we still have some time to go before a final decision is made on progressing the project to construction, finalising the EIS is another positive step forward for the project," Mr Carless said.

Residents are invited to attend the next Coopers Gap Wind Farm community consultative committee meeting in February at the Cooranga North Memorial Hall, Cooranga North.

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