Lotus Creek Wind Farm EPBC decision
Federal decision on revised design
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has deemed a new design for the proposed Lotus Creek Wind Farm, approximately 175km north-west of Rockhampton in central Queensland as a ‘controlled action’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The determination means that controlling provisions for key species will be required and the proposal will be subject to assessment and approval under the EPBC Act.
Epuron spent six months revising the project after the Department advised in June 2020 that the initial design was unacceptable. The new proposal, which was referred to the Department in December 2020, reduces the project footprint by more than 40% and the number of turbines by almost a third from 81 to 55. It avoids priority habitat areas, requires minimal clearing and includes a raft of measures to improve conservation efforts on the site, including monitoring local wildlife and sharing research data, providing funds to support koala conservation, and supporting host landowners to improve koala habitat, control predators and maintain best practice fire management
With the new design and additional commitments the project can achieve a net positive outcome for the biodiversity of the site area, including an increase in the size and quality of koala habitat and a reduction in bushfire risk.
Project manager Jessica Picton welcomed the decision and guidance from the Department on environmental assessment requirements.
“We are pleased to be able to move forward with this project and share the view that conserving the natural environment for key species is a priority.
“Wind farms are typically in rural or remote areas, and the impacts on local wildlife by changes to their habitat is a key concern for proponents, communities and decision-makers alike. We all love Australia’s native fauna and want to protect it. The outcome with the least negative impact to biodiversity is the goal and working to minimise impacts to key local fauna species is always a key guiding factor for us.”
Epuron co-founder and director Martin Poole added that the revision demonstrates the Department’s ability to use the EPBC Act to guide proponents to higher ecological standards.
"The goals of developing Australia’s renewable energy capacity and conserving biodiversity are critically important and not incompatible objectives. Both can be achieved on this project site, which requires careful planning and management. The evolution of this project to date demonstrates the Department’s efficacy in guiding the development of renewable energy projects and improving the sustainability of outcomes.”
The project’s EPBC Act referral decision (reference number 2020/8867) is available on the EPBC Act - Public notices portal.