A new $569 million wind farm in the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) has been approved, with the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission imposing strict conditions on the development, including a reduction in the original number of turbines proposed.
Bowmans Creek Wind Farm, owned by Ark Energy, sought approval for Bowmans Creek Wind Farm (SSD-10315), a state significant development which comprised a 347-megawatt (MW) wind farm of 56 turbines up to 220m high.
The then Department of Planning and Environment completed its whole-of-government assessment of the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm in November 2023.
The project was referred to the Commission for determination because at least 50 people objected to the proposed development.
The three-member Commission Panel, comprising Professor Alice Clark (Chair), Mr Richard Pearson and Mr Adrian Pilton, met with key stakeholders, conducted a site inspection and locality tour, held a public meeting where they heard from 18 speakers, and received 47 written submissions from the community.
The Panel granted development consent to the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm on 6 February 2024, subject to strict conditions.
In its Statement of Reasons, the Commission found that the proposed site is “is suitable for renewable energy development given its location within the Hunter-Central Coast REZ, proximity to existing electricity transmission networks, topography, wind resources, access to the regional road network, and avoidance of major environmental constraints.”
The Commission acknowledged community concerns and imposed strict conditions of consent to mitigate a number of the issues raised. These conditions limit the development to a maximum of 54 turbines (335 MW).
They also require the applicant to implement visual impact mitigation measures including landscape screening on the land of any non-associated residence within 4.4km of a turbine, undertake noise monitoring and publish the results on its website, and manage traffic and transport impacts in consultation with the local community.
The applicant must also undertake decommissioning and rehabilitation of the site at the end of the project life. These and other conditions of consent are designed to:
- Prevent, minimise and/or offset adverse environmental, social, and economic impacts
- Set standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance
- Require regular monitoring and reporting
- Provide for the on-going environmental management of the development.