EXCITING PROJECT: The Banana Wind Farm plans to boost jobs and local supply chains in the Banana Shire. Picture: Contributed
EXCITING PROJECT: The Banana Wind Farm plans to boost jobs and local supply chains in the Banana Shire. Picture: Contributed

Wind farm ticking the boxes

WITH about $300 million invested in the Banana Range Wind Farm project, Lacour Energy is making its best efforts in assuring the project adheres to strict guidelines and is inclusive of local businesses.

The Banana Range Wind Farm project is planned to be located on privately owned land between Biloela and Banana and will consist of up to 51 wind turbines.

It is expected to generate electricity each year equivalent to about 120,000 homes or about 1 per cent of Queensland’s electricity demand.

Lacour Energy director James Townsend said agreements with a handful of landowners on and near the project site were above board.

“The wind farm is sited on private land with landholder agreements to put turbines there,” Mr Townsend said.

“The Queensland state code requires that turbines are at least 1.5km away from the nearest house – we’re over 2.5km from the nearest house.

“We’ve spoken with all the landowners and everybody within 3-4km from the site.”

Additionally, Mr Townsend said interest had already been coming in from keen business parties wanting to be part of the construction process, which at this stage was set for the end of 2020.

“We’ve had a fair amount of interest from local suppliers and we’re asking all local suppliers to register their interest on the website and we’ll keep them informed as tender packages are released toward the middle of next year,” Mr Townsend said.

“We’ve had interest from organisations in Gladstone, Biloela, Moura and around that area.

“It’s a large project with 100-150 jobs during the two- year construction period and 10-15 for operation.

“There’s been about $250-$300 (million) worth of investment and we think there’s $30-40 million that’ll be coming down into the regional economy.”

Local business owner and Callide Dawson Chamber of Commerce president Steve Bates has thrown his support behind the project.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.

“There aren’t many long-term jobs involved, but I think in the construction phase short-term there’s definitely going to be gains for the local community.”

Banana Shire Mayor Nev Ferrier has previously said he was pleased Lacour Energy was looking at constructing a wind farm on the Banana Range.

“There is a lot to like about this renewable energy project and Lacour Energy have been working with council on the development application process,” he said.

“The proponents are not using council roads to access the site and they are not reliant on government subsidies to get the project off the ground.”

Lacour Energy is approaching the construction phase as it waits for approval from the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning and from the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy.

“There’s a few more hurdles to go (but) we would only go public on a project like this if we’ve got a really good chance of proceeding,” Mr Townsend said.

“We feel the Banana Range Wind Farm is a good project with a great chance of proceeding toward the end of next year.”

Public exhibitions for the Banana Wind Farm Project are scheduled to be held at the Biloela Civic Centre on Tuesday, September 24, from 12.30-6pm, and at Sutherland Hall in Banana on Wednesday, September 25, from 12.30-6pm.