The Boulders wind farm project along the West Coast peninsula near Paternoster, St Helena Bay and Vredenburg has received government approval.
According to Ground Up, The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) issued an environmental authorisation for the project on 14 January. This was not a straight-forward approval however, as it comes with conditions attached including changes to the proposed environmental management programme for operating the 140-megawatt project, as well as additional research into some of the likely impacts. The most notable impact investigated are those on birds and bats.
The farm will have a maximum of 45 wind turbines that will stand 165m high. Once completed, the farm would be situated immediately next to the smaller West Coast One wind farm.
The DEFF said it came to this decision after considering factors such as the wind farms assistance in strengthening the existing electricity grid for the area and contributing to the national energy target. In addition, the project will create more than 900 jobs during construction and 60 jobs during its operation.
There has been significant negative response to the project, with critics saying the project will be a “visual intrusion” on the area which will, in turn, affect tourism and property values.
The DEFF have said their approval in principle assessed the possible impacts, and requests certain caveats for approval that address them.
“The proposed mitigation of impacts identified and assessed adequately curtails the identified impacts,” it states in its authorisation.
One of these conditions includes that the farm’s layout needs to be revised and be made available to the interested and affected parties (IAAPs) for comment before re-submission for approval.
All the conditions are needed to be met before construction can begin.