THE Delburn Wind Farm developer has allayed speculation that the project would be affected by the federal government’s rejection on environmental grounds of the Port of Hastings as a construction site.

The company, Osmi Australia, said it was not affected by the Commonwealth’s decision regarding the proposed Victorian Renewable Energy Terminal at the Port of Hastings.

“An offshore wind terminal is not required for the delivery of the Delburn Wind Farm components, and the project was never reliant on a new terminal at the Port of Hastings,” a company spokeswoman said.

“The options for the delivery port are still being considered.”

The majority of onshore wind farm components such as turbines, nacelles and blades are not currently manufactured in Australia.

“There is some domestic capability for towers to be made in Australia, but larger towers are not manufactured here,” the spokeswoman said.

Delburn involves the construction of 33 wind turbines each about 250 metres in height on plantation forest land owned by HVP Plantations. The site is bounded by Coalville and Hernes Oak to the north, Thorpdale to the west, Darlimurla to the south, and Boolarra and Yinnar to the east. Morwell is about five kilometres to the north-east of the development site.

Transport of most of the turbine components to the site will be via the Princes Highway and Strzelecki Hwy over dimensional route. The Strzelecki Hwy is the main sealed, two-lane, two-way arterial road that runs through the heart of the site boundary and provides access to and from the site.

Osmi said the design of the wind farm minimises the use of existing public roads wherever possible, to reduce the impact of construction traffic on local residents.

Some local road upgrades will be required along Deans Road, Varys Track, Golden Gully Road, Smiths Road and Creamery Road to ensure they are of adequate width, bearing capacity and slope so they can be used for large component delivery, along with the movement of over-dimensional loads.

A traffic management plan will be prepared in consultation with the three local councils and the Department of Transport.

The head contractor and major subcontractors have not been appointed.

“As soon as this occurs, we will inform the community and the hundreds of people who registered to work on the wind farm,” the company said.

Construction of the Delburn Wind Farm is currently planned for the third quarter of 2024.

“We will keep the community updated as we get closer to construction commencing,” Osmi Australia said.

The Delburn Wind Farm recently deployed new fire detection technology that it said was a first for Australia and the wind farm industry. The AI fire detection technology monitors the surrounding plantation and landscape.

A Pano AI camera has been deployed to capture ultra-high-definition images and monitor the HVP plantation and the wind farm site. The camera captures 360-degree views over the plantation every minute, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On a clear day, the cameras can monitor up to 30 kilometres away.

Osmi Australia says the technology will provide the community and HVP confidence that any fire that starts in the plantation and surrounding area can be detected quickly and the location shared with emergency responders.

The cameras continuously patrol the landscape and use AI technology to detect smoke and fire, which is then verified by trained staff in the Pano Intelligence Centre. If a fire is confirmed, an alert is then sent to fire response agencies and wind farm staff.

The Pano AI system is designed to detect and locate fires early when they are small and enable response teams to put them out before they can grow into a large and dangerous fire.

The camera uses GPS and AI technology that can very precisely provide the co-ordinates of smoke to first responders. Video from the Pano AI camera can also be used by response teams to gather critical real time intelligence about the fire as teams mobilise.

This system aims to help emergency services detect fires faster, more accurately and to respond more quickly.

“Getting to the fire quickly and supressing it is the main aim, and minute by minute updates can be provided to fire fighters to support their response. This increases the safety for both the first responders and the surrounding communities,” Osmi Australia said.

Before construction can start, a detailed fire mitigation and management plan will be developed by the wind farm and approved by the Country Fire Authority.

Additional fire prevention measures included in the design of the Delburn Wind Farm include:

  • Built-in fire detection and suppression systems in each of the 33 wind turbines;
  • All electrical cables within the wind farm will be buried underground with just 100m of above-ground connection to the existing transmission lines;
  • The plantation will be cleared around the terminal station and physical barriers may be installed as an added fire protection;
  • New water supplies with 5 x 100,000-litre water tanks, the location of which will be agreed with CFA. This is in addition to the numerous existing HVP water supplies within the plantation;
  • A minimum 50-metre vegetation free area around the base of each turbine to provide an asset protection zone;
  • All buildings will comply with the bushfire level building codes, including the operations centre;
  • Each turbine will be equipped with a lightning protection system;
  • Turbines will be spaced apart by at more than double the recommendations specified by CFA: ‘turbines must be a minimum of 300 metres apart to allow firebombing aircraft to operate safely’;
  • All staff permanently based at the wind farm will be fully trained CFA firefighters, and;
  • The number, location and size of fire breaks within the plantation area will increase, with additional access roads and underground cable routes allowing first responders easier access to move within the plantation.