THE region’s reputation as a renewable energy hotspot continues to grow, with construction of the $400 million White Rock Wind Farm near Glen Innes to get under way by the end of the month.
Deputy Prime Minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce said it was a big “delivery for the electorate” and he had been working with Environment Minister Greg Hunt to shore up the delivery of what will be the biggest wind farm in the state.
While there are obvious environmental benefits, Mr Joyce told The Leader on Thursday there would be huge economic benefits for the region, too, with about 200 jobs created during construction and another 10 jobs available after construction.
Planning approval has been granted for 119 turbines to be constructed in stages. On completion, the farm will have the capacity to power about 75,000 homes.
Goldwind chief executive officer John Titchen will join Mr Joyce in Tamworth on Friday to make the official announcement on the status of the White Rock project.
State MP Adam Marshall welcomed the news and said it would go a long way to consolidating the Northern Tablelands as a hub for renewable energy.
As well as the wind farm, Goldwind has also just placed on public exhibition the environmental impact statement for a solar farm near Glen Innes.
Meanwhile, the Sapphire Wind Farm east of Inverell, developed by CWP Renewables, is expected to enter the construction phase by the end of the year, and the Moree Solar Farm started feeding energy into the grid in January.
Armidale renewable energy advocate and businessman, Adam Blakester, welcomed the news of the White Rock development getting under way.
The Starfish Enterprises executive director said White Rock, along with the Sapphire project, were the largest capital works infrastructure projects in the New England region and represented a turning of the tide in terms of energy production.
He said the projects had been largely welcomed by neighbouring communities, which he put down to “honest and open communication” during the process.