18th August 2021
RE-Alliance, formerly known as the Australian Wind Alliance, is a community based organisation of around 500 financial members, with an extensive online and social media following. Our members include landholders, farmers, small businesses, climate campaigners, environmentalists and members of the community. Our vision is helping to deliver a renewable energy transformation in Australia filled with sustainable, long-term benefits for regional communities. We represent members in the Latrobe Valley.
Re-Alliance supports the Delburn Wind Farm with the following planning permit applications:
- Latrobe City Council (PA2001063)
- South Gippsland Shire Council (PA2001066)
- Baw Baw Shire Council (PA2001064)
- Terminal Station (PA2001065)
- The wind farm and associated infrastructure will be a boost for the local economy
- The developer has shown best practice community engagement, showing responsiveness to community feedback by modifying the wind farm design
- It has a generous community benefit scheme with Neighbour Profit Sharing, a community development fund and community co-investment
- It will provide substantial economic benefits including 186 construction jobs and 24 ongoing jobs for the region
- The project includes using existing transmission infrastructure underused since closure of Hazelwood and undergrounding of transmission lines
- The wind farm will reduce fire risk through road construction and fuel management
- The site is ideal, using an existing pine plantation
- Fire risk, environmental impacts and blade flicker are either not issues or are managed appropriately
The project will provide local benefits and provide a much needed economic recovery post-covid stimulus for the region. It will boost the local economy through the creation of 186 construction jobs and 24 ongoing jobs for the region. There will be substantial community benefits with ongoing payments to three separate local councils through rates around $400,000 per annum, with a community fund of $150,000 a year and neighborhood payments of $500,000 per annum. The developer has a Community Co-investment initiative providing the opportunity for the community to invest in the project, adding another pathway for locals to benefit. Because of the novelty as the first wind farm in the Valley and proximity to the retired Hazelwood coal-burning power plant the wind farm is an opportunity for a tourist attraction. The Delburn Wind Farm will invest millions into the local economy.
The proponent has shown a commitment to deep community engagement. One example is the hiring of a local community engagement officer with a publicly facing office in the community. After the first round of community engagement and impact assessments the developer modified its plan, reducing the amount of turbines and footprint of the project, showing that it listens to the community. In the visit in 2019 I saw community support, some community members started the Strzelecki Sustainable Futures demonstrating and broadcasting local community support for the wind farm.
There is widespread community support for renewable energy generation in the region as shown in the Gippsland Roadmap to Zero Energy:
...80 per cent of survey respondents feel it is “extremely important” to build and utilise the renewable energy assets available locally. A majority of people surveyed would like to see the region powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030 or earlier, assuming it is technically feasible and cost effective.
There are strong opportunities for community co-investment and co-ownership of future renewable energy developments. Delburn, a proposed new wind farm in South Gippsland Shire, is investigating community co-investment options, alongside neighbourhood benefit sharing and a community grant fund.
The developer started community engagement early on and sadly this led to a small group opposed to the project to mobilise, it’s disappointing to see misinformation about health impacts or property prices being spread and see attacks to a meteorological mast.
The wind farm is a big step forward, a first for the Latrobe Valley, which will power 135,000 homes with clean renewable energy while cutting Victoria's emissions by 640,000 tonnes each year. The state needs to send a signal that renewable energy projects, especially ones of this stature, are welcome in the state and in the Latrobe Valley. A just transition can be achieved, cutting emissions while making jobs. In addition to helping Victoria meet its climate goals the Delburn Wind Farm will complement renewable generation because of the wind profile being different that other areas in the state.
The bushfire risk assessment of the project states that the risk of fire will be reduced from the fuel management and the new road network:
The outcome of this modelling is that at lower fire danger indices, the presence of the Wind Farm development may reduce bushfire spread through the plantations. This is due to the enhanced fuel management and road network that will greatly reduce fire spread and assist in suppression response.
As well as the interventions of road network creating greater access and fuel reduction through enhanced fuel reduction the developer is also planning on introducing the following initiatives:
- firefighting water supply located at strategic locations,
- emergency management planning,
- staff training and fire detection
- and suppression systems within the turbines.
For these reasons fire is not an issue.
The assessment of blade flicker shows that blade flicker is very low and that the project complies with all requirements. The assessment shows that only two structures will be minimally impacted - no others. The wind farm proponent has committed to using non-reflective coating on the blades which will further reduce the minimal impact.
The development footprint has been modified to have no impact on the Strzelecki Gum. The Environmental Management Plan Framework offers protection measures and monitoring regimes for the design, construction and operation phases to the Growling Grass Frog as well as wedge tailed eagles.
For these reasons above, including the proponent’s commitment and demonstration of community engagement and community benefits, the benefit to the local economy and creation of jobs, climate action and appropriate fire management we happily support the Delburn Wind Farm planning application.