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Latrobe Valley pine plantation wind farm confirms Supreme Court challenge  

Credit:  Sophie Vorrath, 18 November 2022, reneweconomy.com.au ~~

State government approvals for a 33-turbine, 200MW wind farm proposed for construction within a pine plantation in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley are being challenged in court, the project’s developer has confirmed.

In a project update this week, Osmi Australia says the Victorian planning minister’s March approval of the Delburn wind farm planning permit applications will be challenged in the Supreme Court next year by a group called the Strzelecki Community Alliance.

According to its website, the Strzelecki Community Alliance is a group “united to fight the inappropriate deployment of renewable energy technologies in a unique part of Gippsland.”

The SCA contends that the Delburn Wind Farm is proposed for development in a bushfire prone area and too close to local homes, with more than 5,000 residents living 5km from any one turbine.

“The threat to lifestyles, health, rights and financial security means we will fight for those most impacted,” the website says.

According to Osmi, the court challenge – which names both the Victorian Planning Minister and Delburn Wind Farm as defendants – is listed to be heard in February, 2023.

“The planning permits remain valid unless the Supreme Court determines otherwise,” Osmi says.

“In the meantime, we continue to work on addressing the approval conditions before calling for tenders for the head construction contractor next year.

“Subject to the outcome of the court case, we are working towards construction starting in mid-late 2023 and will keep you informed as the Delburn Wind Farm progresses.”

Turbines among the trees

The Delburn wind farm promises to be one of Australia’s first to be built within an established plantation within the Strzelecki Ranges, overlooking the site of the former Hazelwood coal power station in the Latrobe Valley.

The height of the turbines will allow them to operate above the trees, allowing the wind farm to be co-located with the timber plantation – an increasingly common set-up for wind farms in Europe and other parts of the world.

In New South Wales, the Forestry Corporation is seeking formal proposals for large scale renewables and storage in its state-owned pine plantations after receiving more than 2.5GW of proposals for wind farms, alone, in a registration of interest (RoI) process in March.

“State forest pine plantations are ideal locations [for wind farms] because they are often remote from local communities and homes but have good connections to the existing high voltage transmission network,” said Forestry Corporation strategy and risk manager Gavin Jeffries in July.

“They are located in windy areas and have an existing road network.”

Osmi said in March that while it had secured approval for the wind turbines for Delburn, plans to add a big battery had been put on hold, to allow further assessment of any possible fire risk.

Challenging times

Omsi’s Delburn project has had a bumpy ride since its early days of development, including the collapse of a 160 metre-tall meteorological mast installed at the site to measure wind conditions – an incident believed to have been caused by vandals that was investigated by the police.

The legal bid to stop development of the Delburn wind farm is being led by Dominica Tannock, the same lawyer behind an ongoing challenge to WestWind Energy’s proposed Golden Plains wind farm and protracted “noise nuisance”-based fight against the operational Bald Hills wind farm.

“We say that this wind farm is prohibited,” Tannock told ABC News in June, when the SCA’s legal challenge to Delburn was first announced.

“And we rely on an expert report by a licensed surveyor which says the wind farm proposed to be built at Delburn is within 5km of a residential zone within the urban area of Moe, Morwell [and] Traralgon, [which is] prohibited by the council planning scheme.”

Source:  Sophie Vorrath, 18 November 2022, reneweconomy.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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