A Fortescue Future Industries director says it will adapt to challenges posed by foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) as it moves forward with a plan to export millions of tonnes of green hydrogen by the end of the decade.

The company wants to install hundreds of wind turbines on Esperance farms to help fill contracts for 15 million tonnes of the renewable resource a year by 2030.

But local farmer Scott Pickering says the risk of foot-and-mouth disease could make landowners hesitant about having its staff and contractors on their properties.

“Certainly, we do not want extra people getting on farms throughout the area,” he said.

“It’s all about biosecurity and traceability.”

But Nick Ruddenklau, who manages a Condingup farm, believes biosecurity risks can be managed and will be among a range of factors farmers consider before signing agreements.

Maia Schweizer, FFI’s western states director, said the company had projects planned in many different places, which should prevent biosecurity delays from blowing out the entire operation.

“That’s not to say it couldn’t be really challenging for us,” she said.

“But we do have a global portfolio that we will be developing before that 2030-time frame.

“It’s absolutely something that will keep an eye on but also, as we’ve seen, it can come up pretty rapidly and unexpectedly, so we’ll have to adapt as we go as well.”

She said biosecurity advice would be built into their plans, and they would take all precautions seriously.

“I think that is just going to be so important for us in setting up the project and making sure any contractors working with us understand it and take it as seriously as we do,” she said.

“It’s our permission to remain [in Esperance] that’s on the line.”

Plans for desalination plant move forward

The company has a swathe of other questions to answer before its Esperance project proceeds.

Ms Schweizer said it had started the groundwork towards getting a desalination plant approved, as water would be required to create hydrogen.

She said the approvals process would likely take about two years, and no location for the plant had yet been finalised.

But she said there would be surplus water, which could be used by the agricultural sector.

“We know that when we process the water, there is extra, and it really is pretty good quality water, it is usable water,” she said.

“We’d be really, really keen to make it available for agricultural use or other local use.

“We are already engaging with Water Corp to figure out how we might be able to facilitate that.”

The company will also need to move materials in and out of Esperance — potentially through a new port — and is currently looking at options for doing that.

While many aspects of the project are still in their infancy, Ms Schweizer said it was heavily reliant on farmers being willing to lease their land for wind turbines.

She said FFI hoped to “take stock” on how many were willing to do that by harvest, which is towards the end of the year.

She would not say how many farmers have so far agreed to be involved.

Extracted in full form: Fortescue Future Industries says green hydrogen project will consider foot-and-mouth disease risks – ABC News

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