The developer of a Victorian wind farm at the centre of a vandalism incident in August of 2020 has submitted an application for planning approval for the project, which is said to have a “significantly reduced” environmental impact from its original design.
OSMI Australia said last week that it had submitted the final project design for the proposed Delburn wind farm, seeking approval from Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to build up to 33 turbines with a maximum height of 250m.
The wind farm, which is proposed for the state’s coal centre, the Latrobe Valley, will be sited in a pine forest plantation land overlooking the now partially demolished Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
A spokesperson for OSMI said the final capacity of the project was expected to land somewhere between 180-200MW – revised down from the original plan of 300MW and 53 turbines – with the size (and make) of the turbines yet to be determined.
The planning application follows an incident at the the proposed site of the wind farm last August, when the roughly 160 metre-tall meteorological mast installed at the site to measure wind conditions was vandalised, causing it to collapse “in an uncontrolled manner” (see image above).
The incident, which was investigated by police, prompted OSMI to release a statement on the company’s Facebook page urging community members with any concerns or objections to the proposed project to “get in touch.”
“It is disappointing that people have chosen to express themselves in this manner, however it is also fortunate that whoever did this has not been seriously injured or worse through their actions,” the statement said.
“We request that people get in touch with us to discuss [any] concerns further, and we also note that there is opportunity for community members to make formal submissions through the planning process,” it said at the time.
According to WIN News reports at the time, the erection of the met-mast at the project – stretching the approximate height of the proposed turbine nacelles – had stirred up local opposition to the project, as a symbol of what was to come.
One group of “concerned residents and family members” called the Strzelecki Community Alliance claims to represent more than 300 local households, totalling more than 1000 individuals within the 3km radius of the wind farm.
The Alliance has argued it is not opposed to renewable energy, per se, but that OSMI’s plans place wind turbines “too close to homes, too close to communities” and in a bushfire-prone area of the recently hard-hit Gippsland region.
In its statement last week, OSMI director Peter Mariott said an “extensive design review …had managed to significantly reduce the environmental impacts of the project from those outlined in our earlier design” referred to the department.
“It has always been our intention to design a project that sits well within the surrounding environment and minimise impacts on our neighbours,” Mariott said.
“The area of native vegetation to be impacted by the project has been reduced from 42 Ha to
approximately 14 Ha with up to 54 large trees to be impacted. It is anticipated that over half of these trees will be able to be retained despite needing to be offset.
All trees that do not need to be physically removed will be left in place unless they become a safety risk,” he said.
“Modelled noise outputs demonstrate our design target of 35dB for wind farm noise levels at
residential dwellings has been achieved at all but a handful of houses.
“For those limited number of dwellings, the noise levels are modelled to be in the 35-37dB range, well below the statutory limit of 40dB – or background plus 5dB.”
OSMI said the documents were now being reviewed by the planning division of DELWP and if found to be complete would be accepted for assessment, after which time the documents would be published on the OSMI website.
OSMI has also requested that the project be ‘called in’ by the Minister for Planning to allow an
independent planning panel to be convened, giving the community the opportunity to put forward their views on the project through a public hearing process.