Windlab’s development pathway is an iterative process that unfolds over a number of years. Through this process, an initial concept design for a project is scrutinised against extensive environmental and resource studies and refined based on detailed and ongoing consultation with the local community, regional stakeholders, conservation groups, resource management and regulatory authorities.
The comprehensive regulatory review process for wind farms in Queensland requires distinct approvals from Local, State and Federal Government authorities.
Federal Government Requirements
In October 2021 Windlab referred the project to the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
The EPBC referral process ensures our plans for Gawara Baya align with the Commonwealth legislative framework that protects and manages nationally and internationally significant flora, fauna, ecological communities, and heritage places.
Several assessments were conducted to provide proper documentation for the initial Gawara Baya EPBC referral, including:
- Matters of National Environmental Significance
- Land and Visual Impact Assessment
- Noise Impact Assessment
- Ecology Assessment
- Stakeholder consultation
The EPBC Referral was released to the public for comment and was reviewed by the Department and relevant ministers. In November 2021, Windlab received government feedback on our initial EPBC submission, and Windlab then began further studies to inform the Public Environment Report for the project.
As a direct result of the project’s extensive consultation and environmental study work spanning more than two years, Windlab has refined the project from its original 136-turbine concept design to an 70-turbine layout, removing more than 60 turbines from the southern extent of the project area. This decision was made to:
- Avoid impacts to high value vegetation and minimise habitat fragmentation for key species.
- Reduce cumulative impacts association with other renewable energy projects proposed for the region.
- Minimise the visual impact to the community and from the Mount Fox summit, in line with feedback from locals.
- Focus on capturing best wind resource to deliver a balanced, efficient, high-performing asset.
State Government requirements
Gawara Baya was required to meet Queensland’s Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning’s State Development State Code 23 assessment provisions.
State Code 23 assessment provisions require us to analyse the proposed project’s impact on a range of community, environmental and heritage values, and show clear plans for mitigating or managing these impacts.
Our approach was informed by close engagement with our host community, the knowledge of Traditional Owners and expert advice to ensure a robust proposal in line with community expectations.
This thorough process was completed over a two-year period, supported by over a dozen detailed assessments clearly articulating the expected impacts and our plans for mitigating or effectively managing these impacts.