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Whyte Yarcowie Wind Farm

Wind Prospect is undertaking feasibility studies for the development of a wind farm with up to 85 wind turbines near Whyte Yarcowie, within the Regional Council of Goyder local government area. The site is east of Whyte Yarcowie, north of Hallett and south of Terowie. The proposed project will be known as the Whyte Yarcowie Wind Farm.

The project site has been chosen due to its high wind resource and location near existing transmission infrastructure.

Wind Prospect has been undertaking wind monitoring at the site for some time, with a wind monitoring tower erected in 2012. Wind Prospect plan to undertake more extensive wind monitoring over the next few years.

In November, two 130m tall temporary monitoring masts were installed on the project site. The wind data received from the masts will help us to refine the project’s design. The revised design, construction, operation and eventual decommissioning activities can then undergo various environmental and social impact assessments to inform the development application for the wind farm.

KEY FACTS

Number of turbines:
Up to 85

Turbine height: 
Up to 250 m

Proposal location: 
3 km south-east of Whyte Yarcowie

Site size: 
5,422 hectares

Local government: 
Regional Council of Goyder

Project status: 
Feasibility stage

Construction period: 
Two to three years


Current status

The project is in the early stages of preparing a development application. The development application process requires an extensive series of technical, environmental, and social assessments and testing in order to determine the likelihood of any significant impacts. This will allow the project team to develop a design that avoids or mitigates these impacts where avoidance is not possible.

The initial concept design will be released in 2023. This design will be used to inform consultation activities and will focus the environmental and heritage assessments, enabling us to identify any sensitive locations in the project area and then undertake measures to avoid, and mitigate impacts where practicable.

The Development Approval for the wind monitoring masts was a separate process from the wind farm Development Approval process. Discrete environmental assessments were completed on the two locations selected for the wind monitoring masts. The Development Application for the masts has been approved and the masts were installed in November and December 2022.


Proposed project site

The proposed project area is located east of the Barrier Highway, north of Hallett and south of Terowie.


Project stages

Developing a wind farm is a long, complicated, and time-consuming process. It takes several years and a lot of work to understand the potential social, economic and environmental impacts and benefits of a proposed project. This work is guided by a rigorous approvals process and considerable amounts of consultation.

Wind Prospect is in the first stage of the approvals process and will be engaging closely with the local community.

  • Initial planning and environment studies are undertaken and the new monitoring masts are installed. The proposed wind farm design is optimised.
  • Community engagement commences.
  • Submission of State and Commonwealth referral forms to determine the suitable planning pathway and application process.
  • Lodgement of certification from the Office of the Technical Regulator (OTR) to demonstrate that the project will contribute to the stability and security of the state’s energy grid.
  • Preparation and lodgement of the wind farm development application. Including referral of the project to relevant state agencies, public notification process and decision by the relevant authority.
  • Community engagement continues.
  • Obtain pre-construction approvals, complete detailed design and finalise project financing.
  • Community engagement continues.
  • Civil and electrical works, followed by installation and commissioning of wind turbines.
  • Community engagement continues.
  • Infrastructure removed and land returned to previous state. Community engagement will continue.

Why here?

In addition to a strong wind resource, an ideal wind farm site is close to transmission infrastructure and in a location where potential impacts to areas of ecological, landscape or heritage sensitivity can be either avoided or minimised and managed. It is also important that the site is appropriately zoned, has a relatively low density of dwellings in the area, and contains an open and unobstructed landscape with good road access. The assessments undertaken to date indicate that the Whyte Yarcowie area meets these criteria. Located close to supporting transmission infrastructure with an excellent wind resource, the proposed location is very well suited to a wind farm development.

Economic benefits

This project will conduct a local procurement program to ensure that significant project resources will be spent in the region, including wages, contracts and other services. There will also be benefits to local and regional businesses and service providers, including the hospitality and accommodation sectors, through the provision of services to the construction workforce.

Economic stimulus in the region will be distributed via financial returns to the host landowners, neighbour benefit program payments and local wages.

Environmental benefits

The project will contribute significantly to the South Australian Government’s Climate Change Action Plan and renewable energy target of net zero emissions by 2050. The renewable energy produced by the project will also contribute to the Regional Council of Goyder’s vision and aspiration for renewable projects in the area. Provided the electricity generated by the project replaces electricity generated by fossil fuel generation, a significant amount of carbon dioxide will be saved each year.

Community benefits

Once planning approval is received, this is an annual grant-based fund of $1,000 per wind turbine, to be used for community initiatives and administered by a committee comprised of community members, other stakeholders and the wind farm owner.

Wind Prospect are seeking your feedback on the proposed benefit sharing program and will use this feedback to develop the details for each benefit sharing initiative.

Neighbour Benefit Program

A one-off construction payment, and a separate annual benefit payment will be available for eligible neighbouring dwellings during operation of the wind farm.


Assessment works to date

Wind monitoring

A 60m wind monitoring mast was erected in 2012 and has been collecting wind data at the project site. The data collected indicates an excellent wind resource exists at the site, however that mast was too short to accurately measure wind speeds at the height of modern wind turbines, so it has recently been decommissioned.

In November 2022 two 130 metre wind monitoring masts were installed. These include anemometers and wind veins to measure wind speed and direction, and aviation safety markings and lightning protection. These masts are needed to record accurate wind speed and direction data which will help update the project’s wind turbine layout.

Ecology

Flora and fauna surveys have been undertaken since late 2019. These surveys have mapped the vegetation associations and identified and mapped ecological constraints across the project site including Commonwealth and state threatened flora and fauna species, threatened ecological communities, raptor nests and significant weeds.

Surveys conducted November 2021 and throughout 2022 have helped identify two locations for the new wind monitoring masts which avoid impacts to threatened species.

The ecology assessments conducted to date show that the ecological impacts of the project could likely be managed by avoiding most potential impacts to threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities and minimising others. A detailed assessment of potential impacts will be completed once a revised design is ready. The project design will then undergo further updates to mitigate impacts.

Heritage

A desktop cultural heritage assessment has been undertaken for the preparation of the development application for the two wind monitoring masts finding a low likelihood of any impacts to cultural heritage values.

While this assessment was focussed on the two discrete mast locations and the associated access routes, the assessment provides an early insight into the potential occurrence of cultural heritage values that may be present across the broader wind farm site.

Traffic and transport

A traffic consultant has recently been engaged and began work at end of 2022. This work is being completed in consultation with Goyder Regional Council and the Department of Infrastructure and Transport and will identify transport routes for project infrastructure and materials from the port to the project site. It will also help us understand the potential impacts the project will have on existing road users and provide us with opportunities to develop mitigation measures.

Other assessments

Further detailed impact assessments will be undertaken, including noise, traffic and transport, aviation, landscape and visual, hydrology and hydrogeology, electromagnetic interference, and shadow flicker, as part of the future assessment processes.