White Rock Wind Farm obtained Project Approval, in July 2012, under the provisions of the now repealed, Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979. The Project Approval sets out conditions that must be complied with in undertaking the development. The conditions cover construction, operation, decommissioning, administrative, and community relationship matters.
Key stages in the initial project approval process were:
- Project Application, 10 September 2010
- Environmental Assessment, April 2011
- Public exhibition of the Application and Environmental Assessment
- Submissions Report, November 2011
- Director-Generals Assessment Report, July 2012
- Ministers Project Approval, 10 July 2012
To enable optimum development, efficient operation and, competitively priced power to be provided into the National Electricity Market, six modifications to the Development Approval have been submitted to the NSW DPE. When necessary, modified design proposed have been developed in parallel with further environmental assessments to minimise any increase in environmental impacts.
A modification application was lodged in September 2012 for an alternative transmission line. This modification was withdrawn in January 2015, prior to determination of the application and the alternative transmission line does not form part of the proposed development.
A second modification application was lodged in June 2015 seeking administrative changes to the Project Approval conditions. No changes were sought to approved project area or wind farm layout, nor the maximum turbine dimensions or generating capacity. The changes sought relate to:
- Native vegetation clearing (Condition C1) – to clarify the specific vegetation permitted to be cleared in line with the original detail set out in the EA, 2011.
- Noise limits (Conditions F6-F18) – to ensure consistency between operational noise conditions and incorporate contemporary practice and EPA advice.
The Modification was approved by a delegate of the Minister of Planning on 24th July 2015.
A modification application was lodged in December 2015 seeking minor variations to the layout which would reduce environmental impact and facilitate a more practical and efficient project. The variations to the layout are considered to be minor but, as some changes exceed the 100m allowance for micrositing of project components or involve facilities that were not identified in the original application documents, the modification is sought.
The modifications were proposed for the following reasons:
- to reduce vegetation clearing and disturbance; and
- to result in benefits for constructability, operational efficiency and lower resource use over the project life.
No changes were sought to Stage 1 turbine locations, which all remained within the 100m micrositing allowance.
The Modification was approved by a delegate of the Minister of Planning on 1st April 2016.
- This modification relates to an alternative grid connection arrangement to an existing 330kV transmission line 13km west of WRWF. Modification Application No. 1, addressing an alternative grid connection at 330kV was withdrawn by the proponent in January 2015. Modification Application No. 4 is for essentially the same project as for Modification No 1.The modified approval involves the following variations to the approved WRWF infrastructure:
- Additional 13 km of 132 kV transmission line.
- Additional 132 kV/330 kV substation adjacent the existing 330 kV transmission line west of Swan Vale.
The Modification was approved by a delegate of the Minister of Planning on 31st May 2017.
- This modification allows for subdivision of lots for 132kV (existing) and 330kV (proposed) substations.The Modification was approved by a delegate of the Minister of Planning on 11th October 2017.
- To take account for emerging turbine technologies and improved efficiencies in site design, a modification application has been submitted to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) for Stage 2 of White Rock Wind Farm. The modified design has been developed in parallel with further environmental assessments to minimise any increase in environmental impacts.
The associated documents relating to the modification applications can be found on the NSW Department of Planning and Environment Major Project Register.
Environmental Protection Licence
The project is required to hold an Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) during construction and operation. EPLs are issued under provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations (POEO) Act, 1997. Wind farms that have a capacity to generate more than 30 megawatts of electrical power are listed as scheduled activities in Clause 17 of Schedule 1 of the POEO Act, 1997 and must obtain an EPL.
On 27 April 2016, the Environment Protection Authority issued EPL 20665 in respect of the development works associated with construction of Stage 1 of the wind farm. A number of License Variations have been made by the EPA with the most recent issued by the EPA on 4 September 2017. EPL 20665, as varied (including the notice of variation), can be viewed here.
Section 138 approval for underground cabling in a road reserve
Approval will be gained under Section 138 of the Roads Act to undertake any cabling work in crown road reserves. All other approvals required by the Approval Conditions or legislation will be obtained as required.
Works Authorisation Deed
A Works Authorisation Deed has been established with NSW Roads and Maritime Services in respect of works on the Gwydir Highway west of Matheson NSW to upgrade the entry to wind farm site from the highway. These works have been completed and accepted by Roads and Maritime Services.
The project was also assessed under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. A referral was lodged with the Federal Government and the project was declared as “Not a Controlled Action” meaning that no further approval was required under the EPBC Act. A further referral under the EPBC Act has been lodged in respect of Stage 2 and Mod 6.
Licences have been obtained for activities on Crown Land that are located within the Project Area or where the site access track is located. Water access licences were also arranged for the temporary supplies for construction purposes.