CAN I STILL USE MY LAND?
Once a wind farm is operational, it is highly compatible with agricultural operations. Livestock grazing and cropping can continue right up to the edge of all turbines, hardstands and access tracks. The hardstands constructed for each turbine provide excellent all-weather storage areas for machinery and field bin placement.
There are no documented effects on stock nor credible reports of decreases in productivity. In some instances, stock have been seen to use the shade of a turbine during hotter months.
There will be some temporary disruption during construction, with increased traffic, workers and the delivery of construction machinery and materials to site.
A TMP (Traffic Management Plan) will be developed in consultation with the roads authority and the local council. This will be implemented to ensure host landholders and community members are kept up to-date with the progress of the wind farm development.
Wherever commercially viable, existing farm access tracks and laneways are utilised in preference to establishing new access tracks in an effort to minimize disruption to existing or future agricultural operations. Where a new access track is required landholder consultation will be sought to ensure it fits in with the intended land use. For example, in cropping areas, tracks are kept perpendicular or aligned with cropping rows to avoid creating ‘dead land’.
All wind farm access tracks are available for use by landowners on their property which also assists with improved access and mineral earth breaks for fire management.
ARE WIND FARMS NOISY?
Wind turbines generate noise when the blades move through the air and through internal moving parts. Technical improvements have greatly reduced the amount of noise that is made by wind turbines.
During the planning phase an extensive noise assessment is completed. This study models predicted noise levels at sensitive receptors around the wind farm and helps to inform the design and layout to ensure it is compliant with all relevant guidelines.
The table below provides some context for the level of noise you can expect from a wind turbine.
The ‘dBA’ scale is the most commonly used scale to measure noise. It is a logarithmic scale to approximate how a human ear will interpret a sound, regardless of the frequency.
Australia has some of the strictest guidelines in the world when it comes to noise associated with wind turbines. The guidelines specify limits for neighbours of wind farms to be 40dBA and the recommended limit for hosts is 45dBA.
WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS AND COSTS TO LANDHOLDERS?
While many people will benefit indirectly from the clean electricity and economic growth brought about by wind farm development, land holders and the neighbouring community will benefit directly.
During construction and operation, it can provide an important economic boost to land holders. It enables land holders to secure supplementary income annually, for decades, through lease arrangements with the wind farm operator for each wind turbine that is installed on their land. This annual supplementary income can provide a stable addition to the land holder’s agricultural income and help them counteract swings of commodity prices and ‘drought proof’ their farms.
By partnering with WestWind Energy, land holders have no development costs – all development costs are taken care of by WestWind Energy, as the developer. Once the wind farm is constructed land holders will benefit from the partnership and on-going income for decades.
HOW DOES THE COMMUNITY AROUND THE WIND FARM BENEFIT?
At WestWind Energy, we are committed to sharing financial benefits with the community.
Once a wind farm is operational, a Community Benefit Fund is typically established. We fund this in the range of $1,000 per turbine per year. This fund supports a range of community based initiatives, projects and events, determined by a local community reference group.
The range of community needs that are targeted include: health and social welfare, safety, environment, education, youth, sport and recreation, culture, arts and economic development. We also aim to support drought relief programs and initiatives to assist farming communities.
WHAT IS THE LIFE SPAN OF A WIND FARM?
The technical life span of a wind turbine is currently between 20 – 30 years, typically around 25 years. If a wind farm is decommissioned, all turbines and associated infrastructure are removed and the land returned, as near as practicable, to a condition prior to the wind farm establishment to enable agricultural pursuits.