New venture in the wind

TESTING the waters is one thing, but if testing of the winds at Dalveen south of Warwick is positive it could be the site of the Southern Downs' first wind farm.

An application is with council to install a 60-metre high wind monitoring tower on a grazing property on Rabbit Fence Rd, which if approved will stay in place for 12 months to measure wind strength.

If it turns out that elevated Dalveen – at 889 metres above sea level – is suitably windy, Brisbane-based wind farm proponent Tim Lucas says it could become home to three huge wind turbines, with the potential for expansion.

The turbines would generate electricity to be fed into the conventional power distribution network, with Mr Lucas yesterday confident Dalveen would shape up in the wind velocity stakes.

“This is very much early days and the monitoring tower will take readings over the course of a full year,” Mr Lucas said.

“But the initial modelling indicates that Dalveen is a good location, being away from residential areas and with the wind coming in from the east and south-east.

“There is a 10-metre monitoring tower at the Applethorpe TAFE but it is surrounded by trees so the readings aren't reliable.”

The application for the Dalveen wind monitoring tower is on public display at the council offices until next Thursday and could be considered in next month's round of council meetings.

A full-blown wind farm application down the track would have to meet a wide range of environmental and safety criteria.

Mr Lucas acknowledged there had been concerns in other regions about noise from wind turbines, which typically range from between 60 and 120 metres in height.

“The older style of turbine has gears but the newer technology doesn't have gears, which reduces noise,” Mr Lucas said.

“A wind farm would also be a tourist drawcard for the area – they have proven to be quite an attraction elsewhere.”

The Toowoomba Regional Council previously approved a $270 million plan by energy company AGL for a wind farm at Crows Nest which generated opposition from local residents.

The AGL approval lapsed after work failed to proceed, but the company said last month it was determined to re-submit and remained serious about the proposal.

Objections to the Crows Nest plan included safety and stability concerns and the visual intrusion of turbines on the local landscape, with AGL proposing three 90-metre-high turbines with 40-metre blades on a 20 hectare local property.


Wind farm facts:

Australia currently has seven operating power-generating wind farms, located in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania

Two more are under construction and a further nine have been approved across the country

Environmental fears in the past have included the potential for turbine blades to kill rare bird species, noise and visual impact

To generate electricity wind farms usually need regular wind speeds of 16kmh or greater

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