Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — My question is to the Minister for Planning, Justin Madden. Can the minister update the house on how the planning system is facilitating the effective delivery of renewable energy projects across Victoria?
Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning) — I welcome Ms Tierney’s interest in these matters, because in her region down in the south-west I know there have been a number of wind farm projects that have allowed for renewable energy to be developed. It is not only in her region that we are seeing these projects proceed across the state.
In the past few weeks a number of announcements have been made about renewable energy projects, particularly on the progress of major wind farm developments, such as the announcement of the Macarthur wind farm and a couple of others, including the announcements of Crowlands and Berrybank wind farms. This shows that the planning system in Victoria complements and works effectively with decisions on renewable energies. In many ways Victoria leads the way when it comes to the decision-making process and the implementation of renewable energy. This is critical to not only providing infrastructure and jobs in regional Victoria but also to the fundamental principles of cutting emissions and increasing renewable energy supply throughout Victoria.
We know there are contrasting policy views on how these projects should be dealt with, and we know that if those contrasting views were implemented, we would see far fewer projects developed. We would see less significant economic boost to regional areas.
I would like to highlight some statistics around the Crowlands wind farm project. It will provide significant benefits and boost to the north-western region, with the total investment in the project expected to be $360 million. Crowlands is located about 25 kilometres north-east of Ararat.
It will have a generating capacity of 172 megawatts and provide clean energy for somewhere of the order of about 80 000 homes. It will also generate between 100 and 160 jobs during the construction phase and 18 ongoing jobs once the project is operational.
I also approved three planning permits for the development of the $484 million Berrybank wind farm, which is south-east of the town of Lismore. To give the house a few more statistics, Berrybank will include up to 99 wind generators and produce up to 247.5 megawatts of electricity a year. I understand this is enough energy to power some 171 000 homes.
Finally, the Macarthur wind farm will produce 420 megawatts of electricity a year with a value of the order of $1 billion. Once completed in early 2013, as I understand it, Macarthur will be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest wind farms in the world.
In terms of employment, approximately 400 direct jobs and 800 indirect jobs will be generated at the peak of construction. There will be ongoing employment for about 30 full-time staff following construction.
Just these three projects alone have the capacity to power something of the order of 471 000 homes and have a total investment of around $1.844 billion. This is a significant investment not only in the Victorian economy but in particular in the economies in regional Victoria. Think about not only those jobs located in regional Victoria throughout the course of construction and the related expenditure in those regions but all the other industries that are needed to complement the work and all the associated industries that go hand in hand with these projects, and think about the economic benefit across Victoria that filters down through all of those communities.
Most importantly what we see is that the community will benefit long term.
The economic factors and also the environmental factors will ensure that these benefits are shared by all Victorians. This is just another example where good planning policy, good environmental policy and good energy policy come together to make Victoria the best place to live, work and raise a family.