cloudy sunset behind vast country land with wind turbines scattered in the distance

Environment

Protecting regional landscapes

Decarbonising Australia’s energy market is central to protecting regional Australia’s unique landscapes, communities and lifestyle from the compounding threats of climate-related extreme weather events.

At the same time, efforts to decarbonise our national energy system must not result in net-loss outcomes for the ecosystems we’re working to protect.

Junction Rivers is a valuable large-scale renewable energy project that can be grid connected and producing clean, competitively priced energy for Australian homes, business and industry by 2029, while eliminating more than 2 million tonnes of carbon from the state’s annual energy generation profile.

750MW

wind energy project

< 3%

total area of host property occupied by project

2 million+ tonnes CO2 eliminated

from New South Wales' energy generation profile every year

Proposed project site, vast country land with old crop lines

Balanced coexistence

Junction Rivers is located on cropping and grazing properties, with minimal native vegetation. Once operational Junction Rivers will operate alongside existing agricultural activities with minimal impact, occupying less than 3 per cent of the total area of its host properties.

Around 90 per cent of the project’s development footprint occurs within historically cleared and disturbed land. Additionally, over the past two years the project’s design has been revised to avoid sensitive areas and minimise impact to community and amenity.

Junction Rivers is within the South West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) identified by the New South Wales government for its high value wind and solar resources and land use compatibility.

The region is also home to national parks and five key rivers, as well as a range of traditional industries coexisting side-by-side with renewable energy projects, including agriculture and tourism.

Regulatory approvals

In New South Wales wind energy projects are assessed through a comprehensive, integrated approvals process.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is part of the New South Wales development application process. It involves detailed study of all the project’s potential environment, social, and economic impacts.

The EIS for Junction Rivers was submitted in May 2024 and is progressing through the planning assessment process.

The project is being assessed under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act via Bilateral Agreement. This is the Commonwealth legislative framework that protects and manages nationally and internationally significant flora, fauna, ecological communities, and heritage places.

With the support of community, construction could commence on Junction Rivers within two years of satisfying all project approval requirements.

Responsive design

Over the past two years, the design of Junction Rivers has evolved as a direct result of two years’ detailed consultation and environment study work.

This includes removing and relocating turbines and infrastructure to avoid impacts. These changes:

  • Minimise the visual impact to the community of Kyalite, from the Yanga National Park Estate and from Edward River.
  • Optimise co-existence with host agricultural operations.
  • Avoid areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage value, discrete habitats and areas of higher ecological value.
  • Maximise use of previously disturbed land of low conservation value.

Where impacts couldn’t be avoided offsets have been proposed.

Wide shot of wind farm on vast country land. basic roads connecting turbines

Decommissioning and end-of-life

All built assets – from wind turbines and solar panels, to highways, rail lines and bridges – have a finite operating life. Junctions Rivers has an initial operating life of 35 years.

Junction Rivers will have a detailed end-of-life decommissioning and rehabilitation plan as a condition of the project’s approvals.

As part of our leading-practice approach to development, Windlab builds decommissioning planning and financing into lease agreements with host landholders from the outset.

When Junction Rivers reaches the end of its life, all above ground project infrastructure will be dismantled and removed from the site. Junction Rivers’ operational footprint, including tracks, hardstands and laydown areas will be rehabilitated back to a pre-project state suitable to support continued agricultural operations.

Many of the components used in renewable energy projects remain valuable even after the project itself reaches the end of its life. Equipment and assets in good repair can be transferred to other projects, on-sold, or donated to support regional community organisations. Steel and other metals used in turbine towers, transmission structures and overhead cabling can be on-sold for recycling. Advances in technology currently underway will offer new and innovative solutions for recovering valuable resources from turbine blades and other components.

As Junction Rivers nears the end of its nameplate term, options like upgrading and repowering turbines could extend the valuable operating life of the project.

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