Project redesigned and renamed
Environmental impacts reduced to very low levels
Chalumbin Wind Farm has been renamed Wooroora Station Wind Farm, after its host property Wooroora Pastoral Station, a large cattle-grazing property, and has undergone a drastic redesign in response to concerns about the visual and construction impacts on the property, which is located next to national parks that form part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area.
Forty-four of 86 wind turbines have been removed, halving the size of the project, and leaving a layout of 42 wind turbines. The new design includes a minimum buffer of 1 km to neighbouring World Heritage areas, and completely avoids wet sclerophyll forest adjoining the World Heritage Area as well as all known magnificent brood frog habitat.
A comprehensive nature positive plan includes rehabilitation of most of the construction disturbance and the establishment of magnificent brood frog nature reserves totalling 1,255 hectares. It also includes First Nations-led fire management and control of widespread feral pests (pigs, dogs, and cats) and invasive weeds, to improve the host property’s habitat for key species including the northern greater glider, masked owl, and spectacled flying-fox.
“These changes reduce the impacts to very low levels. We believe the benefits to the natural environment of this project far outweigh its impacts. Not least of them more clean energy into the grid in a relatively short time period and a significant improvement in habitat for protected species on private land adjacent to protected forests,” said Ark Energy General Manager Development for Queensland, Anthony Russo.
“After extensive public consultation, we have listened to feedback from the community, government, and the traditional owners, and made changes to the project to meet expectations. We look forward to working with all key stakeholders to achieve positive outcomes and we are committed to getting this project right from the outset and delivering on world’s best practice in the energy sector.
“We must navigate the tension between the construction required to transition to a clean energy system and protecting nature, and this project’s evolution offers an excellent case study of major design iterations to achieve nature positive outcomes.”
After rehabilitation of the temporary construction disturbance the wind farm would have an operational footprint of approximately 57.6 hectares.
It is hoped that the new name will also help to address a misunderstanding that the development could impact a nearby wilderness area also known as ‘Chalumbin’.
“Some opponents took advantage of the former name to spread misinformation and make unsubstantiated claims about what kind of habitat and species are in the project area and therefore the environmental impacts of the development. The reality is the project is NOT within the World Heritage area and it is important that the project is represented accurately and the public have the facts,” said Mr Russo.
A variation has been lodged with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, which is currently assessing the proposal.