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Submissions Closed: DWF Planning Permit Applications

Frequently asked questions

These questions will continue to be updated as the project progresses and as stakeholders and community members submit feedback.

About the Delburn Wind Farm Project

How many turbines are proposed?

The project plans to build 33 wind turbines.

 

Where are the turbines planned to be?

The turbines will all be in the HVP plantation that straddles the Strzelecki Hwy, between Moe South and Darlimurla. A map of the project is available here.

 

Why here?

The Delburn area is a good site for a wind farm because there are already high voltage transmission lines through the area that were built for the Latrobe Valley power stations. 

Wind turbines can now be built large enough that they can be used in plantations and at sites with lower wind speeds which has not been economically feasible in the past.

There is enough wind in the area to generate electricity and the weather is different to the where other wind farms are in Victoria so it will be able to generate electricity at different times of the day.

 

How big?

The turbines are planned to be up to 250m tall at the tip of the blade. The hubs will be around 160m high.

These larger turbines are more economical than smaller turbines and not as many are needed to generate the same amount of electricity. It also means that the lowest points on the blades are high enough that wind flow to the wind turbine blades is not subject to high levels of interference from the plantation trees.

The larger turbines need to be spaced further apart, which means it is easier for aircraft to fly between them for things like for crop spraying and aerial firefighting, and it reduces the visual and noise impacts.

Diagram showing the comparative heights of the Delburn Wind Farm towers compared to other wind farm developments

Diagram showing the comparative heights of the Delburn Wind Farm towers compared to other wind farm developments

How much energy will the Delburn Wind Farm generate?

The project is expected to produce approximately 640,000 MWh from 33 turbines. This is enough energy to power the equivalent of around 135,000 average Victorian homes each year – which is about the size of the community of the Latrobe Valley.

This energy production equates to an annual saving of 640,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

By way of comparison, you would need around 100 turbines the size of those at Bald Hills to produce the same energy output as what is proposed to be generated from 33 at Delburn.

What is the capacity factor of the project?

The capacity factor of the site (the percentage of the maximum output it would produce if it was running all the time), is roughly 36%, which is consistent with most wind farms; however, the time of day that the wind blows around the Latrobe Valley is sufficiently different from Western Victoria and this is really important for energy diversity in the transition to greater variable renewable energy generation.

Are wind farms in plantation common?

Forest and plantation timber based wind farms have been being built across Europe for over 10 years. The Delburn Wind Farm will be one of the first plantation-based wind farms in Australia.

A 226 turbine, 1,200 MW plantation-based wind farm ‘Forest Wind’ has been approved in Queensland. A large plantation-based wind farm is proposed as part of the Kentbruck Green Power Hub in Victoria’s south-west, and small project is under development in the Macedon Ranges south of Woodend.

How many landowners will there be?

The Delburn Wind Farm sits entirely within HVP freehold land, and therefore there is only one landowner hosting wind farm infrastructure. However, in order to make it fairer on surrounding landowners, there is a generous neighbourhood profit sharing arrangement being proposed which would see neighbouring residents (or owners of dwellings) receive a share of the profits generated by the wind farm.

Learn More: Community Benefits Scheme

Is the project commercially viable, and does it rely on subsides?

Financial modelling indicates that the project is commercially viable. It will not rely on any government subsidies to achieve this.

Renewable energy projects have two key sources of revenue: wholesale electricity and large-scale renewable generation certificates (LGCs). Retailers are obliged to purchase certain quantities of LGCs to meet their retail sales requirements under the (Federal) Renewable Energy Target, and this obligation ends in 2030 under current legislation.

Will the project include any storage or other hybrid systems?

OSMI is investigating the feasibility of including a battery energy storage system near the wind farm connection point with the grid. The project does not include a solar farm.

Planning Process

What is the project status and timeline?

The DWF is in the project development phase and is currently undertaking the following activities:

  • Planning approvals
  • Wind resource monitoring
  • Community engagement

Four planning permit applications have been submitted for assessment by the Minister for Planning and preparation for the panel hearing is underway.

The project timing is dependent on many technical, regulatory and economic processes, the timing of which are not all under OSMI’s control.

The project was called in by the Minister for Planning and is currently with DELWP’s assessment team. The applications have been referred to all the relevant statutory authorities for comment and the public exhibition period for the applications with the local community was open from 19 July to 18 August 2021.

A public panel hearing will then be held (scheduled to commence on 18 October 2021), at the conclusion of which the panel experts will make a recommendation to the Minister, and the Minister will hand down a decision.

If the project is approved, construction would likely commence within around 12 months of approval and take roughly 2 years to complete.

 

What rights do objectors to the project have? How can I make an objection? How will ongoing objections/complaints be resolved/managed?

People who wish to make a submission on the proposal may do so via the DELWP Planning website from Monday 19 July 2021. The period for formal public comment closes on 18 August 2021.

The planning permit documentation, which will has been available online for some time, will go on public exhibition on Wednesday 21 July 2021. Copies of the application documents will be available for review at the head offices of the Latrobe City Council, Baw Baw and South Gippsland Shire Councils, DELWP head office at 8 Nicholson St, East Melbourne, and in OSMI’s Mirboo North Office at 52 Ridgway (pending COVID lockdown restrictions placed on businesses).

Alternatively, the documentation is all available online at:

Anyone who makes a submission on the proposal will also be asked if they wish to be heard at the public panel hearing that is scheduled for two weeks commencing on 18 October 2021. Further details in relation to this process will be published closer to the date.

On-going complaints are managed through OSMI’s complaints process or can be escalated to the Energy Infrastructure Commissioner.

Who is the Responsible Authority for the project?

The Minister for Planning is the Responsible Authority for determining if a planning permit will be issued for the project.

How will the community be reassured that the DWF will fulfil their promises and obligations for the project?

Any permit that is issued for the project will come with conditions that are based on what was included in the planning permit application. The company that takes ownership of the project during the construction and operation phases of the project will be contractually obliged to adhere to the conditions of the planning permit and to produce the project that was applied for, eg, number of turbines, height of turbines, community benefits package, placement of peripheral buildings, etc.

What is the complaints process?

OSMI has a complaints process that is outlined on the website here. People can make a complaint about the wind farm by completing the complaints form and submitting it online or in person.

If the complainant is unhappy with the outcome, they can take their complaint to the Energy Infrastructure Commissioner (formerly the National Wind Farm Commissioner).

About Wind Farms

How do wind turbines work?

All turbines operate using fundamentally the same principles – that of converting kinetic energy (energy from movement) into mechanical energy (movement of the blades/shaft) into electrical energy by using the spinning motion to generate a current of electrons using a coil of copper wire and magnets. In traditional thermal generators, the movement is created by steam rising. In the case of wind turbines, the movement is created by harnessing the wind.

What is the energy payback period for a wind turbine?

Several life cycle assessments (LCA) – which calculate the energy required to manufacture, install, operate and decommission a turbine as compared to the energy generated over its life – have been completed for modern wind turbines. The LCAs conclude that the energy payback period for a wind turbine is typically about 6 months of operation.

Learn more:

Can renewable energy/wind farms provide our energy needs? Don’t we need baseload?

Currently our electricity network in Australia relies on coal generation to provide the baseload when other forms of energy generation are not contributing energy into the grid. However, renewable energy is providing more and more of our energy needs every year.

Using fossil fuels is not sustainable. Not only is there a limited supply, but the impact on health and the environment, particularly on climate change from the emission of greenhouse gases is well documented.

A combination of renewable energy from various diverse sources, such as solar, wind and hydro, along with battery storage, rooftop solar and an updated grid network will be enough to provide us with all of our energy needs in the future. Technology is evolving all the time and new, more sustainable, more versatile and more reliable forms of energy are coming onto the market.

What materials are required to build wind turbines?

The towers of wind turbines can be built from tubular steel or concrete with steel reinforcement. They are transported in sections and erected on site. Modern blades are typically made from carbon fibre and fibre glass.

What happens at the end of a wind turbine's life?

The lifespan of a turbine is based on the materials and technology that have traditionally been used. However, it may change into the future. Towards the end of a wind turbine’s life, the turbines will be assessed to determine whether they are still fit for use, or if they are able to be repowered (the turbine is replaced on the existing tower). If neither of these options is viable, the turbines are decommissioned.

Planning permits for wind farm typically contain decommissioning requirements such:

  • Removal of all above ground operational equipment
  • Clean up of spills
  • Rehabilitation of areas affected by closure/decommissioning unless useful to landowner operations (e.g. tracks)
  • A traffic management plan
  • A vegetation rehabilitation plan

OSMI’s agreement with the landowner requires the provision of a bond at least 5 years prior to the end of the site lease that covers the estimated costs to decommission the project.

Learn More: Wind turbine blades fully recyclable thanks to innovative technology.

Are wind turbine components recyclable?

Many components of the wind turbine are currently recyclable, particularly the steel tower and other key metal components in the nacelle. Traditionally, blades have not been recycled; however there is a lot of research currently underway into options for recycling of old turbine blades, and changes in turbine technology and materials is also a consideration.

Community

What will the benefit be for the local community?

OSMI has developed a community benefits scheme which includes a Community Development Fund, Neighbour Profit Sharing and Community Co-investment into the wind farm. It is proposed that the community benefits package be overseen by a committee drawn from the community surrounding the project.

How will OSMI share information regarding the project in an open and transparent way?

OSMI will maintain open and transparent communication around the DWF project through a number of outlets, including the website, Facebook page, media releases and e-news. This includes:

  • Contact information and how to meet with or communicate with the project team
  • Progress updates
  • Details of all technical studies
  • Traffic routes and timing of key construction activities
  • Over Dimensional load delivery timing
  • How to make a complaint
  • Planning process
  • Construction impacts – traffic routes and timing, dust and noise impacts
  • Predicted operational impacts including noise and visual impacts.

DWF has also established a Community and Stakeholder Consultation Committee. The Committee consists of community members from around the project area who are there to provide an additional channel of information flow both to and from the community.

Is the Delburn Wind Farm linked to Project Marinus?

No, the two projects are not related. Project Marinus is a project designed to upgrade the transmission links between Tasmania and Victoria. The routes for the two projects do run in close alignment in some areas, however they won’t impact each other.

Further information on Project Marinus can be found here.

Has there been consultation with traditional owners?

Traditional owners are being consulted throughout the planning process and this will continue through the construction phase of the project. A Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) has been developed in consultation with the Gunaikurnai, the traditional owners of the project. OSMI is committed to sharing knowledge of traditional uses of the land where the project is sited as part of the project’s public information displays.

Local Investment

How much investment will there be in the local area?

During the construction and operations phases of the project, the project is expected to:

  • Deliver $500,000 per annum directly to the neighbours of the project through Neighbour Profit Sharing arrangements for dwelling owners within 2 km of the project. This arrangement could be extended to dwelling owners within 3km of the project if that is the community’s preference; however, the total quantum of the fund is fixed. It is expected this would be delivered via a community trust structure. The details of the design and delivery calculation will be defined in consultation with a benefits sharing committee with membership drawn from the community.
  • Contribute approximately $400,000  per annum in rates-in-lieu payments to local councils, significantly contributing to essential services in the local community. ​
  • Contribute $750 per MW installed (approximately $150,000) per annum to a Community Development Fund once construction commences.

These benefits will also be supplemented by local procurement, jobs and spending within the region by the project and the contractors supporting the Delburn Wind Farm.

Community Co-investment

Community co-investment allows the community to benefit by sharing a portion of the earnings from the project. A community investment vehicle is used to buy rights to a portion of the earnings of the project but has no decision-making power or control over the operation of the asset. The community investment vehicle could be a company, cooperative, association or trust. In this arrangement, the community has no formal ownership or responsibility over the project. The investment model would be linked to performance of the Delburn Wind Farm as a whole (rather than an individual turbine or turbines). OSMI intends to partner with local community energy groups to deliver mutual benefits. A ‘Community Investment Testing Phase’ was conducted over 2019-2020 with the community expressing interest in investing close to $1 million in the project.

Jobs

The Economic Impact Assessment of Delburn Wind Farm has identified that 186 FTE direct and indirect jobs would be created during the two-year construction period and approximately 24 direct and indirect new, on-going jobs during the 30-year operating life of the project.

When will local businesses get a chance to tender?

Tendering for works at a local business level is expected to take place during 2022. Any local businesses who wish to register interest to be included in any tenders are encouraged to complete this form.

Visual amenity

How will the community know what the visual impact will be (what will the wind farm look like?)

In order to show the community, the visual impact of the wind farm from their local area, OSMI has developed photomontages and virtual reality captures from a range of public locations around the project.

The towns of Moe, Morwell and Yinnar as well as the smaller communities of Boolarra, Coalville, Darlimurla, Delburn, Driffield, Narracan, and Thorpdale will be able to see parts of the wind farm from some vantage points.

OSMI has iPad-based software that can allow a visualisation of the project to be created when visiting any residences surrounding the project. This can be provided by local project staff upon request.

Learn about ‘Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality’ views of the proposal.

Noise and Health

How much noise will the wind farm make?

The maximum audible noise from the wind farm at any dwelling (outside) is predicted to be around 36 dB. This is well below the allowable limit in Victoria and is described as being the noise level in a quiet room. For most dwellings around the project it is modelled to be much lower than that.

Will noise from the wind farm affect me?

Specific noise predictions for individual dwellings are available from the OSMI team.

Do wind turbines emit infrasound?

Infrasound is caused by movement. Wind turbines emit infrasound, however the levels of infrasound emitted by turbines is lower the levels emitted by many other commons sources (including the ocean and other man-made objects) and is at levels lower than can be perceived by the human body.

Is the infrasound from wind turbines damaging to health?

There is plenty of research on the impacts of infrasound on health and the impact of wind farms, and so far there is no consistent evidence that wind turbines impact health. The National Health Medical Research Council issued a revised statement on the 11th Feb 2015 after looking at over 4000 papers that “there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans”. Research in the area is on-going as the technology evolves.

More information: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-advice/environmental-health/wind-farms

Flora and Fauna

Will there be any loss of native vegetation due to the wind farm?

Some native vegetation will need to be removed during construction, mainly along roads, to allow for the transport of large turbine components. The turbines themselves will all be located within plantation. The overall amount of native vegetation considered to be impacted under Victorian guidelines is 14 Ha, and 54 large trees, however not all of this vegetation will need to be removed – some is only impacted in the root zone or by aerial trimming. The total amount to be directly impacted (removed) is approximately 6 Ha and 20 large trees.

Will the wind farm impact birds or bats in the area?

Some bird and bats species can be impacted by wind turbines. The impacts are typically far lower than the impacts of cars, transmission lines, glass windows and climate change, and will depend upon a number of factors which are specific to each site, such as species present, rotor swept area, flight patterns, etc. The turbines proposed for the DWF will have blades that are 70m above the ground at their lowest point, meaning only species that fly higher than 70m have the potential of being impacted. A detailed study into the flora and fauna around the Delburn Wind Farm found that only three species of bird are likely to be impacted and one species of bat. The actual impacts will be monitored in the first year after operation begins, and if the impact are unacceptably high (determined by conditions set by DEWLP) mitigation measures such as curtailment (slowing down or switching off the turbines at certain times of the day or night) will be implemented. Curtailment measures have been shown to be very effective at reducing the impacts on birds and bats.

Will the windfarm harm our iconic wildlife such as Strzelecki koala or platypus?

A small number of koala habitat trees (around 15) will need to be removed to build the project, however this loss will be offset by the protection of other trees and native vegetation. Potential impacts to waterways will be prevented by careful choice of construction techniques near waterways, and by preventing the run-off of sediment into waterways during construction. Apart from this initial impact, impact to koalas, platypi or any other land or water based fauna would be limited to normal traffic movements of operations staff and impacts can be limited through speed controls.

Fire

Will the wind farm increase the risk of bushfires in the area?

Fire risk is taken very seriously in the design and operational plans for the Delburn wind farm and a stringent risk management approach will be taken to dealing with the risk of fire on all plant and equipment which includes the wind turbines and transformers. Modern wind turbines include new features designed to minimise fire risk within the wind turbine itself.

OSMI is committed to ensuring that fire risks are properly considered in technology procurement decisions.

Will aerial firefighting still be possible?

Wind turbines do not prevent aerial firefighting. In all aerial firefighting operations, it is the pilot’s responsibility to maintain separation from existing vertical hazards (i.e. communications tower, masts) and operate under visual flight rules.  Each aircraft and pilot have varying levels of capability and experience, and other external factors such as weather conditions also will contribute to the separation that needs to be maintained from wind turbines.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) have released a position paper (25 Oct 2018) in relation to wind farms and bushfire operations that will be used to guide the development of the Bush Fire Response Plan for the project:

What measures will the wind farm take to prevent or fight fires?

The processes/systems to manage fire risk include:

  • All transformers will have bunding to contain any oil spills, the tank of the transformer that contains the oil will be fully sealed and regular oil sampling will be employed to monitor the condition of the transformers during the life of the wind farm.
  • All wind turbines will be fitted with nacelle fire suppression systems to contain any fire that may start, lightning protection, heat and/or smoke detection systems (for early notification of fire), dedicated monitoring systems within each wind turbine that detect temperature increases in the turbines (to either place turbine in a “safe state” or shut them down when the threshold temperature is reached), and a cut off system to prevent overheating when the temperature inside the nacelle is too high.
  • Where a product is available on the market, the wind turbines will be specified to use non-combustible hydraulic and lubricant fluids.
  • A fuel reduced area (free of flammable material) will be maintained around the perimeter of all above ground electrical facilities.

Prior to commencement of construction activities, OSMI will consult with CFA and the other relevant emergency authorities to prepare a Bush Fire Mitigation and Emergency Management Plan for the construction and operation phases of the wind farm.

The increase in cleared areas provided by access roads, underground cable routes and the wind turbines themselves, allows the project ‘footprint’ to improve access for first responders and the number, location and size of fire breaks within the plantation area in the event of a fire starting within the plantation.

Construction and Operation

Will the construction process disturb local traffic?

There will be some disruptions during construction and major deliveries. The project has been designed to minimise the use of existing public roads wherever possible to reduce the impact of project traffic on local residents. Some road upgrades are required to ensure public roads are of adequate width, bearing capacity and slope to allow them to be used for large component delivery. Upgrades will be required at some intersections to allow safe turning movements of construction traffic and to allow the movement of over-dimensional loads (in particular, the wind turbine blades).

A Traffic Management Plan will be prepared in consultation with three local Councils and VicRoads which will outline routes where additional traffic will be associated with the wind farm.

How will potential impacts to the local environment from construction be monitored or mitigated?

A detailed Construction Environmental Management Plan will be developed after the project has approval. The CEMP will cover all aspects of potential environmental impacts, mitigation measures and the management protocols required to ensure that any potential impacts to the surrounding environment from the construction process will be appropriately managed and mitigated.

Communication and Transport

Will the wind farm impact aircraft?

An Aviation Risk Assessment found that the project does not pose an unacceptable risk to aviation. OSMI has in place operating protocols with the landowner for the temporary shutdown of wind turbines (parked in the “Y” position and yawed parallel with the proposed flight paths) for instances of planned aerial spraying of the plantation or aerial firefighting activities. The CFA recommends that wind turbines are spaced at least 300m apart to allow for the safe passage of aircraft between turbines. This requirement is easily met with the DWF design which has a minimum turbine spacing of 640m.

Will the project disrupt TV, radio or mobile phone reception?

A background survey of existing electromagnetic (telecommunication) signals has been conducted for the region, and turbine placement has been selected to minimise any disturbance the existing signal pathways. Additional surveys or TV signals will be conducted at nearby residences prior to construction. If a resident reports any signal disruption after the turbines are installed, we will be able to determine if the project caused the disruption and if so implement a resolution. Possible solutions may include the installation of improved antennas or satellite dishes or upgrades to signal towers.

Will the turbines require lighting?

An Aviation Risk Assessment completed in consultation with the relevant aviation regulatory bodies has concluded that aviation lighting is not required for the project.

About OSMI

What are the company’s future plans in Australia?

OSMI will investigate the feasibility of other forestry-based wind farms. There are no plans for additional wind farms or turbines in the Delburn/Strzelecki area.

Will OSMI keep ownership of the project?

Cubico Sustainable Investments, a leader and global investor in renewable energy, has joined OSMI Australia as joint development partner in the Delburn Wind Farm and will purchase 100% of the project prior to the commencement of construction. 

OSMI will provide ongoing services (covering matters such as community engagement, development approvals compliance) through the construction period and early operations given our knowledge of the project and established relationships with the key project stakeholders.

Other FAQs

Do wind farms generate more wind?

No, wind turbines are not fans. They use the force in the wind to turn the wind turbine rotor to generate electricity, they do not generate extra wind.

Wind turbine do produce turbulent airflow downwind of the wind turbine rotor which dissipates and is resolved into laminar airflow at s distance of approximately 16 rotor diameters away from the wind turbine. This turbulence is felt at heights similar to the wind turbine blades and not at ground level, where ambient conditions already have significant turbulence due to buildings, vegetation and landform.

Do wind farms change the climate?

There have been a number of studies on whether or not wind turbines have an impact on climate. The most notable of these is a study by Lee Miller and David Keith from Harvard University, who used modelling to look at the potential impact of a theoretical wind farm large enough to power all of the US. Firstly, it’s important to recognise that there would never be a single wind farm of that size due to the need for diversification in the wind regime and energy sources, however, even at that scale, the potential impacts modelled were small and localised. The overall conclusion was that the impacts of climate change far outweigh the potential impacts of wind farms.

Do wind farms affect agricultural uses?

Wind farms located on agricultural land can have minor impact on the land use due to additional roading and hardstands (typically 2-4% of the land area); however, farms also benefit from improvements to vehicle mobility (road networks), fences/security, and weed management.

There is no credible evidence to support claims that wind turbines cause birth defects, impact livestock health or crop productivity.

For the Delburn Wind Farm the impacts to plantation productivity will be minor in the context of HVP Plantations’ broader plantation estate and timber supply management, and OSMI has worked closely with HVP to design a project which will cohabitate with the existing plantation operations.

Do wind farms impact tourism?

If anything, wind farms can have a positive impact on tourism as people will come to the area to view the turbines. The Delburn wind farm has proposed a visitor information centre and a wind turbine walk as part of the project design to safely allow people to view and learn information about the project after is it constructed.