MAY 2024

This project is now owned by Origin Energy.

We have been unable to meet with Origin Energy at this stage, but hope to in the next few weeks, to understand their motivations, timelines and intentions etc.

We understand that staff from Walcha Energy have been retained as the community engagement team. Will anything change?

After the 4th delay, we are expecting to see the Scoping Report for Ruby Hills “at the end of the quarter”.

Ruby Hills Wind

The Ruby Hills Wind Scoping Report is due for release in March 2023, Q3 2023. Q1 2024


Origin Energy


140 (October 2022)





Ruby Hills Project is the second of a number of large scale projects being developed by Origin Energy (project formally owned by Walcha Energy) within 10km of Walcha. Walcha Energy projects were developed by MirusWind and Energy Estate. The project is 10km west of Walcha extending from Kangaroo Hills near Walcha Road, down to Glen Morrison Road south of Walcha. It is a 860 megawatt proposal with up to 140 x 6.2MW turbines (230m high). It is going to be a staged project which will result in an extended period of planning and construction. The Ruby Hills Wind Scoping Report is due for release in late March 2023.

What the Winterbourne project will look like from where you live


The advice below is not to be construed as legal advice but is provided as an overview of commercial considerations when perusing Wind Turbine legal documentation.

As a land owner ( the lessor), it is ultimately your choice what you agree to and sign in relation to Wind Turbine developments that may impact your property.

The above items are just a few that we think will be included in Developer documentation and, in the absence of access to the Documents, it is impossible to tell what other Clauses may be included.

In general Turbine and Solar Farm developers seek to have access to the state power grid and to negotiate the pre-sale of power generated under an Long Term Energy Service Agreements (LTESA) that provides certainty of future pricing. In turn, the Developer will then use these agreements to raise capital (Equity and Debt) against the future income stream provided by the LTESA contracts. These contracts may be a much lower price than the spot price of energy however provide the Developer with a clear pathway to profitability.

The less the developer pays you as land rent and the higher the negotiated price through the LTESA route, the higher the profit margin and in turn the higher the return on equity employed.

You as the land owner are not likely to receive an adequate return unless you collaborate with your neighbours BEFORE agreeing to any proposed deal with a developer.

The Documents used by Wind and Solar developers are complex, thorough and will be drawn up strongly in favour of the Developer. Given the very long term nature of these agreements, it is in your interests to seek independent legal advice.

If you wish to discuss the above in confidence please reach out to us.

Project Timeline



We are currently compling specific additional information for this project. Check in again soon for a project update. In the meantime, check out the important information below

Click on title to learn more

Can our roads handle this much impact from this project?

The construction period for Winterbourne Wind is expected to last approximately 2 YEARS with peak construction lasting 9 MONTHS

Mouse over the flashing icons to view the route

1. Vehicles will travel from Newcastle up the New England Highway to Bendemeer.

2. From Bendemeer turning right up the Oxley Highway to Walcha.

3. Turning left at the Sale Yards and along Darjeeling Road

4. Past Betts Transport and right onto Thunderbolts Way.

5. Then turning left at the Show Ground, past Brian Smith and Marchant’s yards

6. Heading east, out along the Emu Creek and Moona Plains Roads

Source: Vestas communication

Vestas has indicated during a recent meeting, that the trip from Tamworth to Walcha, with the oversized trucks, carrying 80m turbine blades and 6m diameter tower sections, will take 2 hours. This appears optimistic, however, what we are more concerned about is the section of road between Bendemeer and Walcha. This is a road that has limited options for overtaking a regular vehicle, let alone a truck. Consider a 85m truck slowly negotiating bridges, bends, or other obstacles. The 6m diameter tower sections, we are informed, will require both lanes in many areas. Complete road blockages will be frequent and time consuming. This will be occurring over a two and half year period. We are concerned about regular traffic for shopping, tourism, medical appointments, couriers, goods transport (including time critical freight), school bus traffic, and of course, emergencies.
We are concerned that the design and quality of our pavement is simply not capable of withstanding the loads and frequency of the anticipated heavy vehicle transport. We are concerned that Vestas have not done their due diligence, or carried out sufficient research, to understand the nature of these roads, and they unsuitability for this type of transport loading.
We anticipate that the developer will receive access to our road network following negotiation with council regarding the necessary modification and upgrade of roads prior to the project starting. What is concerning, however, is the lack of commitment from the developer to make good the repairs of the road network at the completion of the project. In practical terms, how can this be enforced satisfactorily?

The images below are borrowed from other projects, but demonstrate the challenge to other road users.

During construction, there will be 376 vehicles through Walcha on a daily basis with this increasing to 558 during peak construction.

Average Vehicle Movements


16 per hour …. 120 per day

PEAK Vehicle Movements


20 per hour …. 188 per day

Average Vehicle Movements


8 per hour …. 56 per day

PEAK Vehicle Movements


12 per hour …. 100 per day

Average Vehicle Movements


70 per hour …. 200 per day

PEAK Vehicle Movements


105 per hour …. 270 per day

Can our roads handle this much impact from this project?

Source: Traffic movements sourced from Winterbourne Winds Report to the Community Consultation Committee (CCC) meeting on Wednesday 2 February 2022

Google Earth profile line from Walcha roundabout, cnr Fitzroy and Derby Street to centre of Winderbourne Wind project, with wind towers (230m high) drawn at the same vertical scale. Multiple flashing red lights at top of every tower will be visable to all of Walcha township all night. While this line of sight is to some of the farthest turbines of the project, there are turbines located as close as 6.5km to the central roundabout in Walcha. Elevation at roundabout is 1047m, elevation at project area av. 1250m. Tower height 230m at blade tip. This is not a visual trick.

Can our roads handle this much impact from this project?

Source: Winterbourne Wind Farm Stage 1 Scoping report


In a nutshell, a developer needs to produce an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) in order to satisfy the Planning Department. This EIS is submitted to the Planning Department and then released for public display for 28 days. If there is a significant number of relevant objections to the project, the Planning Department will make a decision if referral to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) is required. The aim of our efforts is to achieve this referral to the IPC, to force the developer to address the concerns of the community.

If you are interested in the detail on the State Significant Development (SSD) process, go to Understanding the State Significant Development Process 

A good submission should:

  • Introduce yourself or your group, acknowledge the opportunity to make a
  • submission and note any relevant work you or your group has done.
  • Outline your key concerns and focus your discussion on these. It is not necessary to
  • address the whole proposal – choose the parts that are most relevant to you.
  • If possible, make recommendations. Make strong clear statements, e.g., ‘the
  • proposal should be amended to include a requirement that…’
  • Use evidence or case studies or stories to support your arguments and
  • recommendations. Give specific examples that draw on your knowledge and
  • experience. If you can, collect other stories that support your argument from
  • others in the community. You can also draw on the work of others, for example
  • scientific publications, government documents, or the work of other organisations.
  • Don’t forget to set out the aspects of the proposal that you think are good. There
  • may be other stakeholders who want to get rid of things you think are positive, so
  • it is important to point out what you support.
  • Always give details about how you arrived at your assertions. For example, instead of saying: ‘The golf course proposal is outrageous. It will pollute the river.’ You could consider saying something like: ‘Irrigating the lawns of the 50-hectare golf course, together with using fertiliser and herbicides, is likely to result in changes to the water table, nutrient pollution, and an adverse impact on the red gum forest next to the land where the golf course is proposed’.

Step 1: Prepare your submission

Save your letter as a document, that you can amend if you wish, and so that it is available to copy and paste into the online submission portal when ready.

Step 2: Register on the Planning Portal

  1. Either, google the project name or go to the NSW planning
    Eg .. google “Winterbourne Wind Planning” or go directly this link Winterbourne Wind Farm 
  2. You can create an account at any time to be notified of updates, or create the account when you make your submission.
  3. Prior to the EIS being released, if you want to be notified of updates, Scroll down to the blue button
  4. Once the EIS is released, you are able to make a submission. Click on the blue button
  5. At this point, if you have not already logged in, you will be asked to. If you do not already have an account, you may create an account at this point also.
  6. You will be asked if you are making a personal submission, or a submission on behalf of a group or organisation. Answer, and click continue.
  7. You will then be asked if you have made a “reportable political donation”. Answer and click continue.
  8. You are now on the page where you make your submission. You will have to choose between “Support”, “Comment”, or “Object”. If you want to halt or have the project modified, we will need to have a significant number of objections registered. If you simply desire a modification to the project, an “Objection” does not mean that you want to shut the project down, it simply means that you “object” to the project in its current form, and your comments will note where you would like modification to be made.
  9. You can now copy the content of your prepared statement and paste into the box titled “Your comments”. Click continue.
  10. This is new territory – we have not been to this part of the process yet – just follow your nose – we hope it is straight forward.
  11. Please contact us if you have any queries or would like assistance to complete this process.

To compile your own letter, consider any of the issues that are listed in the box below, sliding left or right for a variety of concerns that have been raised in our community.  Alternatively, consider your own circumstances and how the project will impact on you, your family, your community, your land, and your future. Consider Social Impacts, economic impacts and environmental impacts.

We have a link to a very worthwhile guideline for writing a submission, please follow this Writing Submissions, Letters or Petitions 

Need help getting started? We can help.

Contact us for ideas, support in compiling a letter, or for support in the process.

Some community concerns for this project are ...

Local road and transport issues

This project will cause impacts to local traffic and transport. If not properly dealt with in the EIS, this will end up being paid for by the ratepayer. At best, it will lead to extensive roadworks, further burdening traffic and transport.

Will also see significant road congestion from light vehicle movements at start and end of day, and heavy vehicles on main roads.

An example of congestion and blockages on the Bendemeer to Walcha road, with 90m long trucks (blades) 6m wide trucks (tower sections) blocking sections of road from traffic while travelling. Vestas have informed Voice for Walcha in a meeting that this trip could take 2 hours to complete, with sections of the road closed for long periods while extra long trucks carrying turbine blades negotiate bends and bridges.

High Voltage Powerlines

... in the region, both connecting project to main line, and additional main lines, impacting on visual amenity for the community, and landholders.

Noise from Wind Turbines

... in our audible range for 1.5km, and further for effects of infrasound. Infrasound has had many recorded impacts on human and animal health, but very little scientific research has been commissioned to clarify this effect.

Availability and cost of resources and services

... during development, as the developer monopolises demand for services and materials. The availability of gravel, and other resources, as well as services such as earthmoving, trucks, trades and labour will all be affected.

Has the supply of water been investigated properly?

Will this come at a cost to council and ratepayers From the meeting with Vestas 29th September 2022, we highlight that they estimate the requirement for 1.8ML of water per turbine, which they will have to either gain from drilling bores (as yet completely unplanned and un-prospected), or they will have to cart this water in. Calculating that 1.8ML = 72 trucks carrying 25,000L of water, for EACH turbine, or 220ML total. Over 8,500 semi-truck loads of water will be required for the Winterbourne Wind project. If a cattle property was running 500hd of beef cattle breeders, watering cattle though troughs, this would be enough water to last 40 years. If a bore is drilled successfully, this is an enormous amount of water to be dragged out of our aquifer system, affecting groundwater flows and future supply.

End of life de-commissioning plan from developer

There is no bond included in the proposal, so a corporation with no asset value can walk away without fulfilling this obligation. We are told that there is commitment, but if there is an ability for an overseas company to deplete itself of financial reserves, the logical next step is to walk away from a large financial commitment. The Winterbourne Wind project has changed hands three times already, and we haven’t even sighted an EIS. Who will be carrying the can at the end of the life of the project?


Un-recyclable blades requiring landfill burial at end of life of project. Will this occur at Walcha, creating new landfill sites? Or will it occur elsewhere, requiring excessive and additional transport demands on our local roads, which is unlikely to be included in the transport reports, and the agreements with council for road repairs.

What about the impact of project waste? Where is rubbish and waste from the workforce going to be deposited? Where is material waste from the project going to be deposited? Is this noted in the EIS?

Transparency and community engagement

... of developer and lack of community awareness of project(s). It is an absolute requirement and expectation that the developer engages with the community early and fully. It is completely apparent that this has not been the case, and that many in the community are only now becoming aware of the shape and scale of this project. The decision of the developer to have invitational drop in sessions, rather than community wide forums, has had a very limiting impact on the general awareness of their planned activity. The developer has done the absolute minimum that they feel is necessary, and we argue that they have missed the target by a long way. Regardless of their claims, it is a fact that the vast majority of the community has not been informed adequately by the developer.

Not to mention the division of community and neighbourly relationships.

Impact of transient workforce on the community dynamic

Specifically ... increased cost of long term housing, with many vulnerable renters being forced from affordable rent to skyrocketing rental costs.

Pressure on short term accommodation. As a workforce moves into the area, the limited supply of short term accommodation (Motels, hotels, B&B etc) will be swamped by this demand. Events such as weddings, race meetings, sporting events, festivals and tourism events will be impacted by the lack of accommodation options.

Pressure on health services and child care will increase as a temporary workforce places demands on these services.

Trades will be monopolised by a developers demands, leaving local community members short of options.

Community Fund

This fund designed by developer is estimated to contribute $0.5M to the community annually. Given that this project is estimated to generate around $150 million of revenue annually, (based on a conservative Power Purchase agreement in the $70/kW range) this seems an insignificant contribution to be making to a community that is absorbing significant negative impacts from the project. PPA agreements are likely to be well north of $70/kW.

Impacts on ...

Aboriginal community and heritage sites

Flora and fauna through construction process and follow up maintenance traffic.

Our agricultural industry – loss of access to agricultural land though construction exclusion, access roads and site areas. Impact on ability to make use of aerial services, including chemical spraying and spreading of fertilizer.

Fire risk!

The impact on our ability to fight fires in the gorge country with planes/helicopters with CASA indicating to avoid areas with wind turbine constructions.

Impact on local wind pattens and weather

“As the blades of the turbines turn to generate electricity, it also has inadvertent consequences. It creates a disturbance in the air that can have far-reaching effects on the environment. The turbulence created by wind turbines is known to warm up the surface temperature at night and cool it down during the day. The warming can raise the temperature by up to 2.7℉ and cool it down by up to 0.7℉. The speed of the wind is affected by a wind farm. As the wind hits the turbines, it transfers its energy to the turbines producing electricity. However, this robs the wind of energy and speed. However, the wind picks up speed once it passes the wind farm. This slowing and accelerating of wind can negatively impact the precipitation in the region.”

Other negative effects are discussed on a webpage managed by a renewable energy product supplier can be accessed at

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