Modification overview

The following information provides a summary of why we have applied for a modification to the approved Rye Park Wind Farm project.

The approved Rye Park Wind Farm (the Project) constitutes an approximate $700 million investment and is located to the west of Rye Park, to the north-west of Yass and south-east of Boorowa, in New South Wales. The Modification Application has been prepared to request the modification to the Project Development Consent State Significant Development (SSD) 6693 (Development Consent) under section 4.55(2) of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act).

Development Consent was granted, by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC, now known as the Independent Planning Commission), on 22 May 2017, for the construction, operation and decommissioning of up to 92 wind turbines with a maximum tip height of 157 metres and associated infrastructure. In the years since the original Development Consent were determined, there have been significant advances in wind turbine technology. The application to modify the Development Consent (Modification Application) has been pursued in order to take advantage of these technology changes and to provide greater certainty with regards to the constructability of the Project.

What modifications are being proposed?

In response to submissions made during the public exhibition period, ongoing consultation with landholders and government agencies, and progression of the Project’s detailed design, further revisions have been made to the Modified Project.

These include refinement to the Project infrastructure including:

  • removal of an additional three wind turbines within close proximity of Rye Park village;
  • adjustment of 2.3 km of Transmission Line (up to 330kV);
  • clarification of the approved, permanent meteorological masts (met masts) to allow for the Development Corridor – Permanent Met Masts that includes the Indicative Development Footprint – Permanent Met Masts in its entirety;
  • refinement of the Development Corridor – External Roads;
  • additional ground disturbance for pole locations and associated tracks to enable the Project to connect to the TransGrid Transmission Line; and
  • inclusion of an additional temporary construction compound to facilitate the upgrades on the TransGrid owned existing 330kV Transmission Line at the southern section of the Project site.

It also includes further Modifications to the Development Consent including:

  • Condition 11 of Schedule 3 (Operational Noise Criteria – Wind Turbines) so the table of criterion be replaced with more general criteria which will remain valid for any hub height;
  • Condition 8(d) of Schedule 2 (Micro-siting Restrictions) to enable application of the new Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) definition of hollow-bearing trees so the original intent of Condition 8(d) of Schedule 2 can be fully exercised; and
  • sequencing of Preliminary Site Works and Local Road Upgrades.
Project componentApproved ProjectModified ProjectFinal Modified ProjectChange from the Modified Project to the Final Modified ProjectChange from the Approved Project to the Final Modified Project
Number of wind turbines928077Decrease by 3Decrease by 15
Height of turbines (max tip height)157m200m200mNo changeIncrease by 43m
Operations and maintenance buildings211No changeDecrease by 1
Collection substations311No changeDecrease by 2
Connection substations 111No changeNo change
Preferred Transport Route (Local) Multiple OptionsA Preferred OptionA Preferred OptionNo changeSelection of A Preferred Option
Concrete Batch Plants233No changeIncrease by 1
Construction Compounds323Increase by 1No change
Development Corridor (Wind Farm & Permanent Met Masts)1,646 ha1,272 ha1,327.57 haIncrease by 55.57 haDecrease by 318.43 ha


Why have we prepared the Modification Application?

The Proposed Modifications are required to enable the Project to utilise improvements in wind energy technology to enable significantly more renewable energy production to be achieved with fewer, larger wind turbines and to reflect the outcomes of the ongoing design optimisation and assessment carried out as the Project progresses towards construction.

The justification for the Proposed Modifications and the associated benefits can be summarized as follows:

  • By using the more efficient turbine models the Project has the potential to generate more renewable electricity from the same project footprint, ultimately resulting in a lower cost of energy from the Project with clear benefits to the end user and energy consumer;
  • Greater efficiency; optimised cabling and transmission line infrastructure minimising electrical losses and maximising the generation capacity of the Project. Subsequent benefits as a result of this include:
    • Reduction of transmission losses;
    • Minimisation of resource use and waste generation;
    • Reduced project cost and timelines; and
    • Reduced haulage requirements.
  • The Project is strongly aligned with the NSW Government energy and Commonwealth climate policies. The Project will provide 100% emissions free, renewable energy and help NSW with its inevitable transition away from its current reliance on fossil fuels which are continuing to contribute to climate change impacts;
  • The Project will make a significant contribution to the shortfall in generation that will arise with the forecast retirement of Liddell Power Station in the near future and other coal-fired generators over the coming years;
  • The Project will provide full time employment for up to 250 staff during construction and up to 10 ongoing regional jobs during its operational life providing increased employment opportunities; and
  • The Project will also result in a direct injection of approximately $2-$3 million per annum to the local community through payments to landholders, permanent staff and benefit sharing plan contributions providing better diversification of income and a drought proof and post-retirement income for farmers and shared benefits.

What assessments does the Modification Application consider, and what did they find?

A detailed assessment of the key impacts of the Proposed Modifications has been undertaken by technical specialists and included as part of the Modification Application.

The assessments focused on the potential change in impacts compared with the Approved Project. The assessments have also taken into consideration the relevant environmental issues identified in the Original Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Response to Submissions (RTS). The following table summarises changes to impacts, mitigation strategies and Development Consent conditions:

Specialist Assessment typeChange in impactChanges to mitigation strategiesChanges to Development Consent
VisualNot considered to result in a magnitude of visual change that would significantly increase visual effects (and former visual impact ratings) associated with the Approved Project.NoNo
Shadow Flicker and Blade GlintNo increased shadow flicker impacts on non-associated residences and no impact of blade glint.NoNo
NoiseWith the implementation of the curtailment strategy, noise level from the Modified Project is predicted to achieve the noise criteria at all nearby residences, consistent with the Approved Project.Yes

Implementation of a curtailment strategy

Yes

See Section 2.2.1 of the Amendment Report

BiodiversityNo increased impact on White Box Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland EEC under the BC Act. Impacts on Box Gum Woodland reduced by 12.7 ha.NoYes

See Section 2.2.2 of the Amendment Report

Bird and BatIncreased risk to blade strike to species that regularly occur above 30m AGL. No increased impact or adverse impacts to species listed under the BC Act.NoNo
Aboriginal HeritageIncreased number of Aboriginal Heritage Items identified, however with the implementation of mitigation measures, the Modified Project would result in a similar to moderately increased level of harm in comparison to the Approved Project.NoYes

See Section 4.0 for the description of the Proposed Modifications and impact assessment in Section 7.7

Historic (European) HeritageNo impact on historic heritage listings of Commonwealth, National, or NSW State Significance however additional areas of archaeological potential identified. Overall, impact on Historic Heritage is slightly higher compared to the Approved Project.Yes

A 20m buffer to be applied to areas of archaeological potential. Further mitigation to be outlined in a Heritage Management Plan.

No
Traffic and TransportA 0.1% reduction in heavy vehicle construction traffic, however impacts would not be significant if appropriate mitigation is applied. Two additional over-dimensional routes from the Port of Newcastle identified.NoYes

See Section 4.0 for the description of the Proposed Modifications and impact assessment in Section 7.9

Electromagnetic Interferenceotential for interference with point-to-area style communications such as mobile phone signals, radio broadcasting, and terrestrial television broadcasting. A range of options are available to rectify difficulties.

Increased potential for cumulative impacts on mobile phone, radio, and television signals.

NoNo
AviationNo infringement of any OLS, PANS OPS surfaces or the Grid LSALTS. Little to no impact upon local flying activities and unlikely to affect ATC surveillance systems.

The modified project will infringe the LSALT protection surfaces for four air routes, however this is consistent with the Approved Project.

NoNo

The assessments prepared confirm that the Proposed Modification will result in some increased impacts but that most of these impacts may continue to be appropriately managed by the existing mitigation measures under the Development Consent conditions and the statement of commitments.

Environmental Assessments