The NSW Independent Planning Commission has given the green light for a new wind farm in the Upper Hunter to be built, albeit slightly scaled-back.
The $569 million plans for Ark Energy’s Bowmans Creek Wind Farm originally proposed 56 turbines towering up to 220 metres high be constructed to the east of Muswellbrook, within the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone.
The development was subsequently referred to the IPC after at least 50 people objected to it during the initial feedback period, with issues raised around the visual impacts, noise, and a potential increase in activity on the local road network.
Despite further consultation by the Commission late last year, the three-member panel ultimately gave the State significant development the green light with conditions to mitigate the community’s concerns.
It means the number of turbines has been reduced from 56 to 54, which will still generate up to 335MW of power.
Visual impact mitigation measures, including landscape screening must be implemented, noise monitoring and reporting carried out, and management of traffic and transport in consultation with the local community undertaken.
At the end of the projects life, Ark Energy will also be responsible for decommissioning and rehabilitating the site.
In its Statement of Reasons for approving the project, the Commission noted the proposed site “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.”
Ark Energy’s Head of Development Martin Poole said the approval was an exciting achievement for the company and the state of NSW.
“We first introduced this project to the local community in 2018 and have been progressing it through the NSW planning process over the past five years,” he said.
“We listened to the community to iterate the design and address concerns, and we’re thrilled that Bowmans Creek Wind Farm has been approved. We look forward to this important project contributing to the state’s renewable energy targets and helping to drive down wholesale electricity prices.”