By Tracey Matthies

OSMI has laid out its case for the proposed Delburn Wind Farm development in dozens of documents spanning hundreds of pages.

The final project design for 33 turbines with a maximum height of 250 metres was submitted to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for planning approval in January before publication of the documents on OSMI’s website last week.

Although DELWP is the planning authority for the project, the company has already said it wants the application to called in by the Planning Minister, thus bypassing the department.

OSMI said it had published the materials ahead of the official public exhibition period, expected to begin in March, to allow “as much time as possible for the public to digest the planning permit documentation”.

There will also be two bound copies of the application documents, an A3 map book and several A0 printed maps and diagrams available to view in the OSMI office at 52 Ridgway, Mirboo North.

Further hard copies will be on exhibition at designated locations during the exhibition period.

South Gippsland Shire

Four of the 33 turbines will be located within the South Gippsland Shire boundaries, along with one permanent anemometer, a device for measuring wind speed and direction.

The value of the development within South Gippsland was estimated as $37.3 million, compared to $261.1 million in Latrobe City and $9.3 million in Baw Baw.

According to the documents, the project is appropriate in the context of the key issues identified for South Gippsland and will deliver an alternative energy source to the municipality and wider regional area while ensuring potential environmental and amenity issues are appropriately mitigated and managed.

In particular, consultants said the wind farm would not result in “unreasonable soil erosion and salinity impacts provided mitigation measures are implemented and maintained”.

It was not expected to have any significant impacts on the water environment and the proposed wind turbines and associated infrastructure would not unreasonably impact views from the public realm.

There would be no detrimental impact on anticipated growth of settlements in the surrounding area, no heritage overlays, and all cabling was proposed to be underground and use an existing transmission line to connect to the Victorian grid.

Specialist reports also found no concerns with noise, shadow flicker caused by the blades, bushfire risk or aviation impacts.

Biodiversity

According to the biodiversity assessment, the total area of native vegetation to be impacted by the wind farm was 12.344 hectares, of which just 1.67 hectares was in South Gippsland.

No large trees would be removed in South Gippsland although 49 would go in Latrobe City.

The report said 178 Strzelecki Gums had been identified in the area studied but the wind farm design had been refined so none would be impacted.

It also found there was a low likelihood the proposed wind farm development would impact any significant bird or bat species, although a Bat and Avifauna Management Plan will be prepared.

“Further efforts will be made by Delburn Wind Farm and its contractors to retain as much native vegetation as possible, particularly trees on, or near the edge of the impact area,” the report said.

Reception

An Electromagnetic Interference Assessment found possible issues with digital television broadcast signals in some areas, mostly in the Latrobe Valley.

“There is potential for interference to wireless internet signals received from the Boolarra NBN tower at several dwellings in the vicinity of the Project. However, NBN Co has advised that the project is not expected to impact on the signal line of sight for any currently connected dwellings and the overall risk of interference is low.

“If interference is experienced, it is likely that problems could be rectified by relocating the antennas at the affected dwellings to achieve a clearer signal or to receive signals from an alternative tower,” the report said.

The consultant “understands that, in line with the expected planning permit conditions, the customer (DWF) has committed to returning any impacted services to at least pre-construction quality at their own cost if interference to those services is attributed to the project after construction”.

Economic assessment

The three municipalities are expected to receive an additional $45 million in Gross Regional Product (GRP) and 186 jobs during the construction phase, followed by $2.1 million in GRP per annum over the 30-year operational life of the wind farm, with 25 new ongoing jobs.

The full applications and supporting documents can be viewed at osmi.com.au/planning-permit-application-wind-energy-facility.