Australia’s largest wind farm in western Victoria sets an environmental benchmark for wind power, the state’s peak green group said today.
Challicum Hills wind farm near Ararat, officially opened today (Saturday November 22), will save about 180,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year, said Environment Victoria global warming campaign director Darren Gladman.
He said the $76 million wind farm was situated in an environmentally-acceptable location and provided a quarter of Australia’s current wind energy capacity.
“Victoria is one of the world’s worst greenhouse polluters thanks to our reliance on brown coal for electricity production,” said Mr Gladman.
“Increasing amounts of greenhouse pollution translates to global warming and in Victoria that means more bushfires, less water, more drought and a diminishing snow line.
“Individual citizens and communities can make an important contribution to the common environmental good. The people of Ararat should be proud of their contribution.”
He said wind farm operator Pacific Hydro and local landowners were also undertaking a revegetation program that would help protect local biodiversity and improve the habitat of native wildlife, as well as a bird monitoring and assessment program.
Mr Gladman said Challicum Hills provided a model for wind development in terms of economic benefits, landscape siting and community consultation.
“It is clear the key to developing the wind industry lies in a solid planning process that takes into account the needs of the environment and community,” said Mr Gladman.
Australia is among the three worst per capita emitters of greenhouse gases in the developed world, while Victoria is the worst offender in Australia. Recent research showed that three of the four most polluting power stations in Australia were in the Latrobe Valley.
“Wind power is limitless, non-polluting and safe. Together with other renewables such as solar, hydro and geothermal, wind will form an important part of the mix that Victoria needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.”