The investigation phase

What  are we doing now?

The investigations phase is expected to take three to six months. During this time we will undertake high-level investigations including ecology, grid connection, noise and wind studies.

We will be engaging with those closest to the investigation area to provide information, seek feedback and address concerns.

We will be holding a series of drop-in sessions during this time where the community meet the team, can ask questions and provide feedback on the proposal.

Do I have to sign an NDA?

The Pines Wind Farm team will never ask you to sign an Non Disclosure Agreement, we are committed to open, honest and transparent communications with the community on the impacts and opportunities of the proposal.

The proposed project

Where is the proposed project?

The Investigations Permit Area includes Gurnang State Forest, part of Mount David State Forest, and some parts of Vulcan State Forest south of Black Springs.

As part of the investigations, we are meeting with those closest to the investigation area to discuss how you can participate in the project.

Opportunities include hosting project infrastructure or participating in our Nearby Neighbour Program. To discuss involvement please contact us.

Will the proposed project be in other parts of the forest?

No. The Planning and Investigation Permit issued by Forestry Corporation of NSW is limited to the areas named above, we are not permitted to investigate any other State Forests not named in the Permit. No native forests are included in the investigations permit.

How big will the wind turbines be?

The technology for the proposed project is yet to be finalised, it is expected however that the turbines will be approximately 300m tall at the top of the blade tip.

Will I still be able to use the forest for recreation activities?

During the investigations and planning and approvals phases there will be no impact onthe use of the forest by the community or visitors to the region.

Forestry Corporation of NSW will continue to issue permits for recreation activities. As part of the Community Benefits Package, we will be exploring ways to improve recreational facilities in the forests we are operating in. This may include upgrades to facilities and parking areas and access roads.

During construction, for the safety of forest visitors, some areas may have restricted access. Once the wind farm is operational however, it is business as usual for Forest visitors.

How will you manage environmental concerns?

As part of the development and approvals process a series of surveys and assessments will be undertaken. The surveys are to determine the potential impact on the local environment. The results of these surveys will be used in the design process to help us to avoid and minimise flora and fauna impacts.

Environmental management plans will then be prepared to manage impacts throughconstruction and operations.

Will I be able to hear the wind farm?

At 1.5km distance from the wind turbine base it is likely that the sound pressure level from an operating wind turbine will be around 35 decibel. 35 decibel is the NSW State noise limit outlined in the wind energy guidelines that aims to ensure noise levels do not significantly affect the living experience of people residing in the area. It can be seen in the graphic below that NSW has amongst the most-stringent noise requirements in the world.

Most people hear a soft woosh-woosh noise at this distance if there is very low background noise around them.

Will the proposed project be visible from Oberon?

All proposed wind turbines would be more than 15km from Oberon. At this distance, the visual impact is anticipated to be low, pending a detailed assessment by a visual impact consultant.

How is decommissioning paid for?

The decommissioning of the wind farm will be the responsibility of TagEnergy as the owner/operator of the wind farm. A decommissioning fund is required to be established to cover the future cost of decommissioning.

Wind farms

How do wind farms generate electricity?

Wind flows over the blades like air flowing over an aeroplane wing. This flow of air causes a difference in air pressure between the front and back of the blade, moving the blades forward and making the rotor spin. The spinning rotor drives a generator, converting motion into electricity to export to the grid.

I live nearby, how can I benefit?

We will be engaging with those closest to the project about opportunities for participation. We are also looking to speak with private landholders about joining our Nearby Neighbour Program for neighbours within 3.5km. To discuss involvement please contact us.

What is shadow flicker?

Wind turbines and their blades can cast shadows on nearby land. When viewed from a stationary position, the blade’s moving shadows appear to flicker, giving rise to the term ‘shadow flicker’.

Wind energy guidelines limit the shadow flicker experienced at any neighbouring dwelling to an average 30 hours per year as a result of the operation of the wind farm. An assessment of shadow flicker will be undertaken as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process to ensure The Pines Wind Farm is compliant with guidelines.

What about reflections from the turbines causing glare?

This is known as blade glint. Blade glint can be produced by the reflection of the sun’s light from smooth and reflective surfaces. Modern wind turbine blades are coated with non-reflective paint, to prevent the occurrence of blade glint.

Are wind turbines really environmentally friendly? How long does a turbine take to repay 
the carbon it takes to produce it?

Vestas, the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer, has calculated the operating times that wind turbines need to generate in order to payback the energy used in their manufacture. These times vary from 5 months for high wind sites (like The Pines Wind Farm) out to 8 months for lower wind speed sites. For comparison, solar photovoltaic panels are 1 to 2 years and hydro-electric power plants are 9 to 13 months on the same metric.

You can read more about this on the Vestas website: vestas.com/en/sustainability/environment/energy-payback

Proposed project benefits

Is there a community benefits package?

A Community Benefits Package will be established for the project worth at least $1,050 per MW per annum. The package includes a Community Benefit Fund, a Nearby Neighbour Program and contributions to the local council. The final size of the proposed project will be determined during the planning and approvals phase, through consultation with the local community.

Will you have neighbour payments?

A Nearby Neighbour Program will be established as part of the Community Benefits Package. The Nearby Neighbour Program will include budget for annual payments to neighbours within 3.5km of wind turbines. Further information on this can be found on the Neighbours page.

Fire safety

Will there be a higher risk of fires because of the wind farm?

No. If it proceeds, The Pines Wind Farm will lower the risk of fire in and around the region.

Forestry Corporation of NSW keeps records of ignition sources for forest fires. Over the last 33 years, the three biggest identified sources of ignition are lightning, arson and campfire.

As explained below, The Pines Wind Farm proposal will help reduce the risk of all three of these fire sources.

Wind turbines reduce the risk of lightning fires
Lightning strikes are frequent around elevated regions like Oberon and if they strike flammable objects, can start fires. Over the last 33 years, lightning has been the most common cause of fire identified in State Forests.

Wind turbines are designed to conduct lightning strikes safely into the earth mat underground around the base of the turbine. Due to their height, wind turbines naturally attract lightning, substantially lowering the occurrences of lighting strikes on flammable objects such as trees and fences.

The Pines Wind Farm Proposal includes turbines certified to IEC 61400-24 (lightning protection), that ensures all wind turbines will have engineered lightning protection systems to international standards.

24-hour operations and surveillance
Early detection and 24-hour manned surveillance will reduce fire risks from campfires and arson, improving security across the plantations. The Pines Wind Farm Proposal includes 24-hour operations and surveillance, including a network of security cameras, and will feed into a 24-hour manned control centre.

The Pines Wind Farm Proposal would result in the construction of a $3bn dollar power generation asset for NSW feeding the National Electricity Market (NEM). This asset would be operated and monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week for its 35-year operational life. The proposed monitoring will include a network of security cameras and other equipment for the early detection of forest fires. The 24-hour manned operation and monitoring centre will have a fire plan and direct communication with Forestry Corporation of NSW and other fire authorities.

What happens in a bush fire?

A bushfire risk assessment is undertaken for each project and a bushfire management plan will be prepared and made available to the community. The management plan includes details of water tanks and other firefighting equipment maintained at the wind farm site, and how the wind farm personnel and equipment will assist firefighting efforts in case of bushfires in the region.

The wind turbines to be used on the project are fitted with advanced smoke detection and fire suppression systems. When smoke is detected, a signal is sent to the operator who will immediately shut down the turbine and alert the fire authority.

The suppression system will activate in the event of fire, a gas suppressant is released to extinguish any fire, the types of gas used are environmentally safe and act to cool the fire and remove oxygen to extinguish flames.

What about lightning strikes?

Wind turbines are designed with lightning protection systems that draw lightning strikes safely to ground without injury to people or property. According to the CSIRO, lightning strike is the most common cause of bushfires. The height of wind turbines, coupled with these lightning protection systems substantially reduce the chance of lightning strike on trees, fences and buildings in the area around the wind farm.

Where can I find more information?

The project website will be updated with new information as it becomes available. You can also sign up for the project newsletter.

We will be hosting a series of community engagement sessions throughout the project investigations and planning and approvals phases as well.