Construction of the Crudine Ridge Wind Farm has recommenced following an investigation by the NSW Government into alleged excessive vegetation clearing.
Under its approvals process, wind farm operator CWP Renewables was permitted to clear some vegetation along Aarons Pass Road to allow 67.2 metre long blades for 37 wind turbines to be transported to the site.
However, some residents soon lodged concerns that tree clearing limits had been breached and CWP voluntarily stopped work to allow the NSW Department of Planning and Environment [NSWDPE] to investigate.
“The Department recently concluded its investigation into concerns raised by the community about the extent of tree clearing by CWP Renewables and found no breaches,” a NSWDPE spokesman said.
“CWP Renewables voluntarily stopped work on August 21, 2018 while the investigation took place.
“The conditions allow them to clear a total of 1.54 hectares of native vegetation along Aarons Pass Road to facilitate road upgrade works required for the development of the wind farm.”
The majority of vegetation cleared was classified as: red stringybark, scribbly gum, red box, long-leaved box shrub and tussock grass open forest.
CWP Renewables project director Brendan McAvoy said less than 4000 square metres, the size of half a rugby field, of permitted vegetation clearance had occurred.
“Overall, the project will clear less vegetation than has been permitted, in addition to this an environmental offset area has been established which is in excess of what would typically be specified for a project of this size,” he said.
“The project is in compliance with all approvals and is being undertaking in accordance with all approved management plans.
“The removal of trees along Aarons Pass Road is governed by the project vegetation clearance limits detailed in the consent and Environmental Assessment, and is subject to an offset agreement to conserve other areas in perpetuity.”
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment spokesman said the project would be monitored as it continued.
“The Department will continue to monitor the development and take any enforcement action necessary to ensure compliance with conditions of consent,” he said.
What is involved in the construction process?
The project consists of constructing 37 wind turbines which will reach a maximum height of 160 metres from foundation to the uppermost blade tip.
Each blade is 67.2 metres long.
”There are three blades per turbine which will be transported by trailer from the port of Newcastle, through approved transport routes,” Mr McAvoy said.
“In addition to the blades there will also be deliveries of the other components which make up a wind turbine, these being the hub and nacelle units and tower sections.
“In total we are expecting 333 deliveries for the turbine components.”
The project will see 50 kilometres of new internal access roads constructed, along with internal electrical reticulation, temporary construction compounds, rock crushing facilities, a concrete batching plant, a substation, an operations and maintenance facility, approximately 15 kilometres of overhead transmission line and a switching station.
There will also be upgrades to public roads, including a 20km stretch along Aarons Pass Road.