180 TURBINES: The Karara project gains grounds as it undergoes the next step of development. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
180 TURBINES: The Karara project gains grounds as it undergoes the next step of development. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Wind farm goes ‘above and beyond’ into next stage

A CONTROVERSIAL $1.96 billion wind farm near Karara has taken the next steps toward construction as council planning officers commend the applicants' effort to consult the Southern Downs community.

Wednesday's council meeting revealed Spanish company ACCIONA had started a voluntary social impact assessment to gauge the longtime effects of their MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct.

According to planning officer Jane Stroud councillors had been well briefed on the advancement of the development.

"They're doing a voluntary social impact assessment, which is really fantastic to see," Ms Stroud said.

"It's above and beyond what is legislatively required and it demonstrates a willingness on behalf of the applicant to consider the ongoing impact of their proposal to the community - its fabric, its demographics and not just in the short-term build of 12 months but looking forward to 10 years to 15, and so on."

Ms Stroud also revealed the application was being handled by the Queensland Treasury and SARA, not SDRC.

The council would be included as a referral body but will not play a formal assessment role.

"That means the State Government leads the project and the proponent reports to the State Government," she said.

"In this regard, ACIONA have been very proactive."

The project covers Goondiwindi, Toowoomba and Southern Downs council areas, leading to the state assessmenet.

Just recently, ACIONA held a series of economic development sessions to try and bring in local businesses to the project.

It is expected construction of the 180 turbines and the Western Downs Green Power Hub could bring in a joint 800 jobs.

"We know we will need (local business) during the construction phase," Ms Stroud said.


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