Welcome to Kerrs Creek Wind Farm

Welcome to Kerrs Creek Wind Farm

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the wind turbines proposed at Kerrs Creek the highest proposed in Australia?

Kerrs Creek is not the highest proposed wind farm in Australia, and never has been. In response to community feedback, RES has reduced the tip height of the proposed turbines to 254m (previously 280m). There are multiple wind farms proposed or approved in NSW and across Australia that have turbine tip heights in excess of 254m. 

Why are wind turbines getting larger?

Globally wind turbines have been getting larger as, at higher altitudes, wind speeds are typically stronger and more consistent. Additionally, larger turbines allow for longer blades, which further enhances their ability to capture wind energy. This trend towards bigger turbines helps to reduce the cost of energy production.

While it's true that larger wind turbines generally produce more energy, it doesn't necessarily mean they produce more noise. In fact, advancements in turbine design and technology have enabled manufacturers to mitigate noise levels even as turbines increase in size. This is due to improvements in aerodynamics, lower rotations speeds in larger versus smaller turbines and application of noise reduction technologies.

How will the Community Benefit Fund be managed across the two Local Government Areas (Cabonne Council and Dubbo Regional Council) close to the project site?

RES believes that the development of community benefit sharing arrangements should be informed by the community. In NSW, agreement with local councils is required to formalise local benefit from renewable energy projects.

The breakdown of community benefit funding by project and locality will be subject to agreement with the relevant local government/s as part of development of a Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA). Details of these agreements need to be agreed with the host local government – in this case Dubbo Regional Council.

A VPA is an agreement between a developer and Council where a developer pays a monetary contribution or delivers a material public benefit for items such as:

  • Public amenities or services
  • Affordable housing
  • Transport or other infrastructure

RES is committed to advocate for the interests of community in the development of community benefit arrangements. The project team have commenced engagement with Dubbo Regional Council and Cabonne Council about community benefit.

As part of our ongoing consultation about the development of the project, we will continue to provide updates to community about the development of benefit sharing arrangements, including ongoing opportunities to provide feedback.

How will the community benefit from the project?

RES is committed to developing Benefit Sharing Programs for the Kerrs Creek Wind Farm to enable benefits from its renewable energy projects to be meaningfully shared with project neighbours and the wider community.

The project will produce enough renewable energy to supply the equivalent energy needs of up to 300,000 households* which is of critical importance to NSW as ageing coal fire powered stations retire. RES is committed to ensuring that this state-wide benefit does not have adverse local impact, and will continue working with the communities to promote the development of a socially responsible project that considers local values, aspirations and concerns.

* assuming total annual consumption for a 2 person household; no pool; mains gas and on a market offer in New South Wales is 4,215 kWh (Source: AEMC)

Murra Warra Wind Farm Case Study

Click on the image above to download the Case Study. 

Will the Kerrs Creek Wind Farm create jobs?

The Kerrs Creek Wind Farm project will generate more than 200 jobs during construction with an estimated 10 ongoingjobs over the 30-year life of the project. If you are looking to start a career in renewables or transition to a career in renewables, there are many ways you can be involved in this exciting and growing industry. You can search jobs on the Clean Energy Council website here; https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/careers/clean-energy-careers-hub

To what extent will neighbours be impacted (visual and noise)?

Visual and noise impacts are an inevitable part of almost all renewable energy projects, especially wind farms. RES takes noise and visual impacts seriously and it is important for us to understand the impacts our projects have on those that are nearby. We do this through in-person consultation with impacted neighbours and Visual Impact Studies and Noise Impact Studies as part of the Development Application process. These are done so that any exceedances of the State Government thresholds and guidelines can be highlighted and mitigated.

Throughout this process those residents that will receive impacts that exceed these guidelines will be consulted with on a case-by-case basis to make sure that each resident has a solution that is suitable for them and their households.

A key part of the planning and environmental impact assessment process is preparation of a detailed landscape and visual impact assessment for assessment by the NSW government. This includes the assessment of likely visual impacts of the development on both public and private receivers.

A study was commissioned by National Health and Medicine Research Council, which had been directed by theAustralian Government to explore health complaints made by some people living near wind farms. The study found that the infrasound generated by wind turbines does not make people dizzy or nauseous, does not affect heart health or mental health, or affect sleep. You can view more information about this study by the Sydney Morning Herald here: Renewable energy: Wind turbines do not make you sick, Australian study finds (smh.com.au)

How many people would receive compensation, how much this would be and how far a radius from the site would this extend to?

The project is at a relatively early stage and continues to undertake assessments designed to identify where project impacts require mitigation. In some cases, this could include agreements and payments with neighbouring landowners. It is not possible to finalise these arrangements while design and technical investigations are still ongoing.

Do wind turbines impact property values of surrounding properties?

The proximity of visibility of a wind farm to a property to a wind farm does not necessarily lead to a decline in property value. Numerous global studies and independent research in Australia conducted over the past decade have found no substantial link between wind turbines and decreases in property values.

An independent report commissioned by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage entitled Review of the Impact of Wind Farms on Property Values (Urbis 2016) concluded that there was no evidence of wind turbines causing value drops. This was particularly relevant for rural properties engaged in primary production, as “there is no direct loss of productivity resulting from wind farms”. This study also found no evidence that wind farms impact the sale prices for residential or lifestyle properties.

Resources for further reading include:

 - The independently prepared report for the NSW Government (Urbis, 2016) is located: https://www. environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/communities/wind-farm-value-impacts-report.pdf   - NSW Department of Lands report www.valuergeneral.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0006/195315/Preliminary_ assessment_impact_of_wind_farms_on_surrounding_land_values_ in_Australia.pdf  

- NSW Department of Lands report www.valuergeneral.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_ file/0006/195315/Preliminary_assessment_impact_of_wind_farms_on_surrounding_land_values_in_ Australia.pdf  reported in Wind Energy the Facts, Clean Energy Council, March 2013.

Do wind farms impact insurance for neighbouring properties?

RES carries all relevant insurances and is not aware of any impacts on insurance of neighbouring properties.  We have also reached out to the Clean Energy Council who advised they weren’t aware of any demonstrated impact of insurance increasing on neighbouring properties as a result of a nearby renewable energy project.

Do wind farms impact birds and bats?

Before being granted planning approval, a wind farm proponent must undertake a detailed biodiversity assessment that considers all the biodiversity impacts of  the proposal including clearing of native vegetation and indirect or prescribed species impacts including potential bird and bat strike.

Mortality figures from NSW wind energy projects indicate an average rate of 1 to 3 bird fatalities per turbine per year[1]. These estimated mortality rates are considerably less than estimates for other anthropogenic sources. Millions of bird and bat deaths can be attributed each year to collisions with buildings, vehicles and power lines, and predation by feral and domestic cats.

This graph was published in the Australian Financial Review on 5 Feb 2024.

What are the next steps, following the scoping phase?

RES submitted a scoping report to the NSW government in September 2023 for the Kerrs Creek Wind Farm project located in the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone. In October 2023 the Planning Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) were received.

In response to these requirements and ongoing engagement with the community, RES is currently undertaking detailed transport, ecology, agricultural impact, noise and visual assessments. This process includes refinements to the project design that was submitted as part of the scoping report.

Once this design refinement and the required technical studies are completed, RES will be undertaking further community engagement, including additional community information sessions in advance of lodging an environmental impact statement with the NSW Government. Following Government review of the environmental impact statement, members of the public will have further opportunity to comment through a public exhibition period. 

How will decommissioning at the end of life of the wind farm be managed?

In accordance with our core values, RES is accountable for what we do. We are motivated and empowered to deliver what we are responsible for. A wind farm is expected to have an operational life of approximately 30 years.

After this time, the project owner will either decommission the site, restoring the area to its previous land use, or negotiate with landowners to repower or upgrade the equipment and extend the wind farm’s operational lifespan.

In some cases parts of the wind farm have remained post-decommissioning however, it is most often because they continue to serve a functional purpose, such as the substation or access tracks.

Further information on decommissioning is required as part of the Environmental Impact Statement in the Development Application. The Project will have a decommissioning plan which details the rights and responsibilities of parties during decommissioning, including any new project owner.

Further details about decommissioning can be found at the Clean Energy Council website: https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/advocacy-initiatives/community-engagement/decommissioning

Why has this site at Kerrs Creek been chosen?

The Kerrs Creek site has been selected as it is ideal for a renewable energy development for the following reasons:

  • Excellent exposure to New South Wales wind resource
  • Excellent access to the transmission network
  • Excellent complementary use of land with farming
  • Very low environmental impacts
  • Ideal terrain and soil types to facilitate the construction of wind farm.

As the design of the project has evolved over the past few years, a number of design amendments have been undertaken including a reduction in the overall project area and size, a reduction in proposed access points to Burrendong Way from five to two, and a relocation of turbines to minimise noise and visual impacts on neighbouring properties.

Do wind farms hinder the ability to fight fires?

Under normal operating circumstances, it’s extremely unlikely that a wind farm can cause or adversely affect a bush fire. Wind farms are also highly unlikely to start a bushfire by attracting lightning. Should a wind turbine be struck by lightning, built-in control systems divert the voltage safely underground.[2]

The Kerrs Creek Wind Farm project is required to develop asset protection and bushfire response procedures with the Rural Fire Service (RFS). RES is required to develop and implement a bushfire management plan that includes response strategies such as shutting down and positioning turbine blades to facilitate aerial access. If turbines and other tall structures are to be equipped with aviation obstacle lighting, RES must ensure there are procedures in place to quickly activate the lights during a bushfire or fog event to increase the transparency of these obstacles to pilots. RES must also consult with the NSW RFS to develop other appropriate procedures, such as curtailment of turbines, to minimise impacts to firefighting efforts.[3]

Wind farms can assist firefighting efforts. The roads and safe-turn-around points provided by wind farm infrastructure can enable local firefighters to safely access areas that were otherwise inaccessible, providing firebreak, backburn and safe evacuation opportunities.

In 2013, during a grass fire at a South Australian wind farm ignited by lightning, the access roads built for the wind farm proved beneficial for firefighters. These access tracks, initially installed for wind farm construction and maintenance, served as a natural firebreak, enhanced onsite accessibility and enabled effective back burning. This unexpected advantage positively impacted response times and the local fire brigade’s ability to combat fires on the wind farm or neighbouring properties.[4]

Aerial firefighting can continue to be undertaken around wind turbines if appropriate strategies, emergency management systems and communications protocols are in place. As part of the Kerrs Creek project, RES must develop and implement a bushfire management plan that includes response strategies such as shutting down and positioning turbine blades to facilitate aerial access and consult with the NSW RFS to develop other appropriate procedures, such as curtailment (stopping) of turbines during fire events.

How has fire management been considered by the project?

RES acknowledge that managing bushfire risk is critically important to both the lives and livelihoods of our neighbours. As part of the initial design of the project and preparation of the scoping report that was submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, RES undertook a Preliminary Bushfire Hazard Assessment. This included a review of the NSW Rural Fire Service’s Bushfire Prone Land mapping which does identify that small areas of the project site and larger areas of land surrounding the project site are potentially bushfire prone.

Accordingly, the full EIS will be informed by a detailed Bushfire Hazard Assessment which will consider both the potential hazards and risks associated with bushfires, including any risks associated with the project causing fires. It will identify measures to prevent fires, including measures to ensure fires on the site do not develop into a grassfire and/or bushfire.

How will traffic routes and any potential road upgrades be decided?

RES acknowledges that managing the traffic and transport impacts of the project, particularly during construction, is critically important to the local community. As part of preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS), RES is undertaking a Traffic Impact Assessment in accordance with the relevant Australian Standards and advice from Transport for NSW and local Council(s).

This assessment will include a detailed route study, calculation of approximate anticipated total traffic movements and assessment for over-sized and over-mass (OSOM) loads, including any locations of upgrade works to facilitate these movements.

Preliminary design activities have focused on reducing the number of proposed vehicular access points to Burrendong Way to maintain safe road driving conditions and minimise required changes to the road network.

RES is undertaking an assessment of transport routes and will consult with Transport for NSW, relevant local councils and the community to ensure the adequacy of proposed routes during the preparation of the EIS.

Which roads will be used for gravel, water and turbine deliveries?

The exact roads have not yet been established. However, it is almost certain that Burrendong Way will be included and highly likely that Shepherds Creek Road will be included as well. Further details will be available in the Traffic Impact Assessment Report being prepared as part of the EIS.

What happens with decommissioning if RES goes out of business?

In accordance with our core values, RES is accountable for what we do. We are motivated and empowered to deliver what we are responsible for. A wind farm is expected to have an operational life of approximately 20 to 30 years.

After this time, the project owner will either decommission the site, restoring the area to its previous land use, or negotiate with landowners to repower or upgrade the equipment and extend the wind farm’s operational lifespan.

In Australia it is the responsibility of the wind farm owner to decommission the wind farm. There have been no examples of a wind farm being abandoned in Australia and as an industry we are committed to not letting this occur.

The NSW Government has stringent decommissioning requirements that apply to all renewable energy projects. The Kerrs Creek project will be required to undertake a Decommissioning Management Plan including rehabilitation plans at all turbine and infrastructure sites during, and post construction. This requires the removal of all above ground infrastructure and rehabilitation of the land to enable return to productive use.

What impacts will the Project have on prime agricultural land?

The Kerrs Creek project is located on land which will continue to be used for grazing purposes while providing supplementary income to landholders. The overall footprint of the wind farm and associated infrastructure will take up only a small portion of the overall project site, approximately 2%, with the improvements to on-farm infrastructure such as tracks and fencing supporting day to day management of the existing grazing enterprises.

What is the planning pathway for this wind farm?

Can wind farm components be recycled?

According to a Clean Energy Council report released last year, around 85% to 94% of a wind turbine’s mass is recyclable. Leading turbine manufacturers are taking steps to increase the sustainability of the sector through a combination of research and demonstration projects with the aim to produce zero. You can view the CEC report here: https://assets.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/documents/Wind-turbine-recycling-report-2023.pdf

How long do wind farm components last?

A wind farm will typically have a lifespan of 25-30 years. The site conditions determine the design and lifespan of the turbines, based on the wind loads placed on the components. The components of the wind farm will have long term warranties of 25-30 years.

Do wind farms have a drying effect on the surrounding land?

RES aren’t aware of any studies that have identified impacts on soil moisture in an Australian context, and this issue hasn’t been raised by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as part of their initial advice on the project’s scoping report.  There has been some media attention to a recent Chinese study, but with the numerous local variables like soil type, topography, turbine type, wind speed, ground cover type, humidity, rainfall, atmospheric pressure, it is unlikely to be able to be directly applied out of its local context.

[1] https://shared-drupal-s3fs.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/master-test/fapub_pdf/NSW+Planning+Portal+Documents/Draft+Wind+Energy+Guideline+(2).pdf

[2] https://www.energy.nsw.gov.au/nsw-plans-and-progress/major-state-projects/shift-renewables/wind-energy

[3] https://shared-drupal-s3fs.s3.ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/master-test/fapub_pdf/NSW+Planning+Portal+Documents/Draft+Wind+Energy+Guideline+(2).pdf

[4] https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/news/in-case-of-fire-a-real-life-experience-at-a-wind-farm-site