APPROVED: We could have a wind farm by 2017

WINDS OF CHANGE: Rabbit Ridge Wind Farm proponent Tim Lucas, pictured in 2013, finally has approval to build the green energy project.
WINDS OF CHANGE: Rabbit Ridge Wind Farm proponent Tim Lucas, pictured in 2013, finally has approval to build the green energy project. Ella Archibald-Binge

IT'S been a long, financially and emotionally costly three years for Tim Lucas but finally he has the go-ahead to build his Rabbit Ridge Wind Farm at Dalveen.

The process began more than four years ago when Mr Lucas put his proposal before the previous Southern Downs Regional Council.

The plan was refused under the weight of 70-plus objections from landowners and neighbours but, during the lengthy appeals process, these objections lost momentum and due to various issues fell away from the case.

The project was given the green light by the current council and Mr Lucas can now set about realising his dream. He said the original idea came about when Ergon proposed to build a new power line from Warwick to Stanthorpe.

"A lot of people were opposed to that idea and I spoke up and said I could offer a cheaper, green alternative," he said.

"It also had the added benefit of being 'embedded power generation' or power generation closer to the point or area of usage.

"Meaning that the power would be generated locally, rather than having to rely on power from Warwick and the problems that can arise should storms knock out the power supply."

Mr Lucas said in the three years since the proposal had been in appeal, electricity demands had changed significantly.

"Demand has plateaued and the future of the grid is very different," he said.

"There is so much more opportunity now for green, renewable energy, thanks to policies surrounding the renewable energy target.

"There is also a lot of interest in the development of projects like this."

Mr Lucas said he became fascinated with wind farms during a stint in Germany in 2009.

"I was surrounded by them and thought they were just magnificent," he said.

"This appeal has been a massive focus for me and, without the approval, I had absolutely nothing so now I can start to work to bring it to realisation."

Mr Lucas said there were numerous benefits for the region, including tourism and financial benefits to residents of the Southern Downs.

"The annual energy production of the wind farm will be the same as the annual power demand for Stanthorpe.

"The cost of the power generated will only be a fraction of the cost of what we pay for retail power."

The farm could be completed by the end of 2017.

Topics:  business wind farm

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