Walcha, New South Wales
The Winterbourne Wind Farm development is located to the north and east of Walcha in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales, approximately 425 kilometres by road from Sydney. The proposed development area is roughly bounded by Thunderbolts Way and the Oxley Highway to the west, the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park to the south and east, and the Salisbury Plains to the north.
The proposed project area extends over approximately 22,000 hectares, of which less than 1,000 hectares is expected to be disturbed during construction. The project area is located at approximately 1,100m-1,300m elevation and is comprised of hills and ridgelines rising out of the Walcha Plateau.
The project will be constructed primarily on freehold land within the Walcha and Uralla Local Government Areas. Land to be used for the project will be secured under lease arrangements with local landholders.
New England Renewable Energy Zone
The NSW Government has proposed a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) for the New England region. The REZ involves a coordinated effort to plan new transmission lines to accommodate up to 8,000 MW of renewable energy projects. The NSW Government has identified the New England region as having strong wind and solar resources and infrastructure which can support renewable energy development.
The project site is within the proposed New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). The Winterbourne Wind Farm project will include approximately 50km of new 330kV transmission line, which will tie into the existing TransGrid network via a new 330kV switchyard, proposed to be built approximately 7km south of Uralla, NSW. Other proposed renewable energy projects may also connect to the grid at this location.
Excellent Wind Resource
Wind speed is critical to energy generation, so it is very important to place turbines in areas of high and consistent winds. The Walcha area is considered one of the best wind resource areas in NSW. Wind monitoring at the site since 2009 indicates that wind speeds are high and consistent, making the wind farm project viable in this location. Importantly, the wind profile is complementary to solar generation; that is, the wind in the Walcha area tends to be stronger at night and in the morning, and relatively lower during the day (when solar generation would be expected to be strongest), making the proposed project highly valuable from a portfolio diversification perspective.
The proposed project area has many low peaks and ridgelines, which provide suitable locations for the construction of wind turbines. There are good existing access roads to and within the site, allowing for transport of turbine blades, towers, and electrical equipment and movement of construction vehicles within the project area. However, some existing roads and infrastructure may need to be upgraded, and several new access roads will be constructed within the site as part of the proposed project.
Though the population density is relatively low, there are several existing residences within the project area, and the proposed wind farm will be designed to minimise potential visual and noise impacts to landowners and tenants in the area. Much of the project area is currently used for livestock grazing and has been cleared of trees and other vegetation, meaning the potential for impacts to flora and fauna is greatly reduced.
Strong Supportive Community
Importantly, the project landowners and local councils are supporting the proposed project, and the community will benefit through a financial contribution scheme. WinterbourneWind will continue to engage with the local community and relevant local, state and federal stakeholders to ensure the proposed project addresses community concerns and meets expectations.