The proposed 80MW,16-turbine Kingaroy Wind Farm is situated on 502 hectares in south-east Queensland. Golder’s environmental team was engaged to support the development during the planning and approvals stage. This project would become one of the first wind farms in Queensland to be assessed under the new State Code 23, a relatively recent addition to Queensland’s legislative regime for impact assessment, intended to protect individuals, communities and the environment from adverse impacts as a result of the construction, operation and decommissioning of wind farm development.
The wind farm’s ridgeline location was chosen to maximise the capture of the prevailing wind and the potential for power generation. However, the location was also home to largely intact forest communities and associated biodiversity recognised at regional and state levels. The area also supported large bat and bird populations. The potential for birds and bats to interact with wind farms is well recognised, and the need to assess the risks to these ecological components is highlighted in the new wind code, which aligns to current biodiversity protection measures in the state.
To maximise opportunities for renewable power generation whilst avoiding and minimising potential impacts to the biodiversity, Golder’s environmental specialists completed detailed, seasonal ecological studies to meet the new code’s requirements. The studies confirmed that the area supported populations of threatened and iconic species, such as Koalas, Glossy Black Cockatoos, Wedge-tailed Eagles, various migratory birds, and at least 13 species of microbats.
Following the ecological studies, surveys of bird activity within the rotor swept areas of the windfarm, and a collision risk assessment were carried out. Detailed long-term monitoring of the numerous caves in the site’s central valley revealed high densities of microbats, and the potential for these caves to be important for regional bat populations.
To avoid and minimise habitat clearance, loss of connectivity and fragmentation, while maintaining the project’s economic viability, the Golder team worked with our client’s planning and design team to fine-tune the location of the wind turbine towers, infrastructure, and access roads. Our bird and bat studies also provided important inputs for developing the wind farm’s operational management measures detailed in the management plans developed for the project.
With the detailed information we had gathered and utilising our global experience in windfarm-wildlife conflict mitigation, we developed a tailored draft bird and bat management plan, as required by the code. We also developed draft management plans for vegetation, threatened species, and fauna. These plans were submitted to the regulators as part of the successful Approvals Application for the project.