Redesign to minimise impacts

Proposal focused on nature-positive outcomes

Chalumbin Wind Farm - Design Changes - Information sheet

Ark Energy has finalised significant design changes for the proposed Chalumbin Wind Farm ahead of submitting the project’s draft Public Environment Report (PER) for the Commonwealth's assessment.

The project area is located south-west of Ravenshoe in the Tablelands region of far north Queensland, within the Northern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.

The changes come after major concerns about the development's potential environmental impacts were voiced by the local community and conservation stakeholders, given the host properties' proximity to national parks that form part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.

Eight wind turbines have been removed resulting in a reduction of access roads by 27 km and a sub-station relocated to reduce the internal overhead transmission line by 4 km.

The changes reduce impacts on wet sclerophyll forest areas adjacent to the national parks by 52.6 hectares, or almost one third, and reduce the overall construction footprint by 61 hectares to 1,071 hectares.

Over the course of the project's planning and assessment phase a total of 114 wind turbines from an initial layout of 200 have been removed to address concerns and reduce impacts. The project is now less than half its original size. It completely avoids all rainforest and the nearest disturbance to the western boundary of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area is 600 m in only one location and otherwise almost 1 km or more.

The final proposal commits to an industry-first to rehabilitate at least 70% of the construction disturbance and strategic land-based offsets within the project area totalling seven times the construction footprint.

Offsets would provide new protected habitat within private landholdings of between six to 11 times the size of habitat impacted, and effectively extend the conservation area of Tully Falls National Park and improve habitat connectivity between Koombooloomba National Park and Yourka Reserve Nature Refuge.

The rehabilitation program is intended to be implemented in collaboration with local land care groups, and would facilitate capacity building and Indigenous training and employment. It would leave an operational footprint of 107 hectares for an output capacity of 602 megawatts.

According to Ark Energy’s General Manager Development for Queensland, Anthony Russo, the final proposal is the result of two years of ecological assessment work and intensive consultation between the project team, investor, engineers, ecologists, Traditional Owners, stakeholders and the local community, with a shared focus on achieving nature-positive outcomes.

“Increasing renewable energy supply is urgent to reduce carbon emissions, replace fossil fuel energy sources and meet growing electricity demand. Conserving the natural environment and Australia’s unique biodiversity is equally important. Achieving these priorities together through sustainable development that delivers nature-positive outcomes requires robust science, an interdisciplinary approach, and careful planning and management.” said Mr Russo.

“The project area for Chalumbin Wind Farm has an excellent wind resource and high voltage transmission lines with capacity, enabling comparatively faster connection to the grid.

“We have focused on developing a proposal that will provide a significant contribution to renewable energy capacity, as well as local social, environmental and economic benefits that outweigh the project's unavoidable impacts.

“In addition to industry-leading community benefit funding, hundreds of jobs and millions in economic activity, this proposal provides conservation benefits for key species and a path to achieve a significant net gain for biodiversity in the project area over the longer term.”

The project’s draft Public Environment Report is now on public exhibition until December 16, with hard copies available at the Tablelands Regional Council office in Atherton, the Ravenshoe Library and the project’s information hub in Ravenshoe. It is also available online from the project website.