$800M major development to boost cyclone ravaged community
THE Cyclone Debbie-ravaged town of Clarke Creek could receive a windfall if the government approves an $800million wind farm.
The Lacour Energy project, about 150km south of Mackay and now open for public comment, is proposed for an area sitting across the land of eight families.
The location is believed to be one of the windiest in Queensland.
And the project would see the company give the community $200,000 a year for 25 years, through a community fund for local projects.
It would comprise up to 200 wind turbines and more than 200MW of solar panels as well as a battery storage facility.
Wind turbines would be in surrounding mountain ranges and the solar farm would be on lower ground.
The company states Clarke Creek is an area of "high wind and solar resources" and benefits from being close to existing roads including Marlborough-Sarina Rd.
The wind farm would be built over two to three years, and would involve trans- porting 150-200 turbines each with three 16-tonne blades.
These would be shipped into Gladstone Port and then trucked via Rockhampton and along Marlborough Rd down the Broadsound Range.
This range is a vital artery for cattle producers like Barmount Feedlot owner Sean Conaghan, who sends his stock to Rockhampton and Brisbane abattoirs.
"We don't own the roads and we welcome the wind farms but we will have to work on a schedule because there are limited times we can flow through," Mr Conaghan said.
Graziers have two main concerns: They usually transport their cattle early in the morning or late at night, with animal welfare rules prohibiting them from moving them in the middle of the day.
Lacour would also transport its equipment at night, meaning the range would become congested.
Also, if farmers are stopped on the range waiting for the wind farm's blades to drive through, they may also threaten rules about how long livestock can be kept on a truck.
"(But the wind farm) is a positive thing for the region and I think everyone realises that," Mr Conaghan said.
The Lacour Energy project went to public comment on Saturday.
Lacour director Mark Rayner said once completed it could be the largest wind farm in Australia, employing about 350 workers in its construction phase.
The company submitted applications with state and federal governments in November and expects approval by the end of May. On that timeline, construction could start in early 2019.