Wind farms being considered for state pine plantations

Wind turbines spanning massive pine forest with blue sky overhead
Image: Shutterstock

Forestry Corporation has issued investigation permits for four wind farm projects within public pine plantations in New South Wales.

Neoen, Iberdrola Australia, TagEnergy, and Mainstream Renewables Power and Someva Renewables joint venture have been awarded permits to investigate wind farm opportunities in some pine plantations in the Central West and Southern Inland regions.

Forestry Corporation CEO Anshul Chaudhary said the permits would enable the proponents to investigate windfarm opportunities in pine plantations in state forests around Bondo, Orange, Black Springs and Sunny Corner.

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“A permit is not a consent to proceed with a project, but it will allow the proponent to start the detailed studies to see if a project is viable within each investigation permit area. Each company will need to conduct detailed wind farm feasibility studies, which will commence with the installation of wind and weather monitoring equipment on meteorological masts,” he said.

“Each company will also undertake extensive community consultation and work with local communities to consider and address potential concerns around environmental impact, noise, landscape and visual impacts, traffic and transport issues, hazard and risks, heritage, water and soil impacts and waste management.”

Once this work is completed the companies would submit the projects for consideration by the state government and, if approved, Forestry Corporation would issue construction and operations permits.

The combined investigation, consultation, planning and approval stages could be expected to take between three and six years.

In 2021 NSW parliament passed changes to the Forestry Act 2012, which allowed renewable energy projects to be considered in softwood plantations.
As public land managers Forestry Corporation has a role to play in the transition to renewable energy in NSW.

“Wind farms can co-exist with plantation forests without having any long-term impact on tree growth or plantation operations, as the wind turbines are situated well above the top of the trees,” Chaudhary said.

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“Pine plantations are large areas often in windy locations, with access to powerlines, and a good existing road network.

“Each project will have a Community Benefit Fund equivalent to a value per megawatt of installed capacity, delivering direct benefit back to impacted residents and the broader community.”

Wind farms operate in forests in Canada, Germany, Sweden, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and similar proposals are being considered for plantations in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

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