Update On WWF From DPE – Extension to Community Submissions to 29 March 2024

Where is Vestas? Has anyone heard or seen them lately?

Surprise – surprise – Vestas’ pushes responses to submissions back again to the plethora of objections to the Winterbourne Wind Project – with yet another extension granted to the 29 MARCH 2024. They have now had 15 months and two extensions from the end of the public exhibition to try and manipulate a response to the community’s many objections.

Rather than accept this Vestas excuse, as just another ‘dog ate my homework’, we need as a community to seriously contemplate and question whether these delays go to the Project’s viability.

We acknowledge the Government is desperate to keep any projects on the table as serious cracks are emerging as to the viability of the REZ rollout. However, an inability to close many of these projects raises serious questions as to the quality of the projects – environmentally and economically and/or the skill sets of the developer in making poor site acquisitions and development decisions. A situation exacerbated when the developer is Vestas who is really just the turbine salesmen with minimal development experience. They have been in no man’s land on profitability for the last three years.

So, the Elephant in the Room in contemplating Vestas’s ongoing delays asks two pertinent questions;

  • Firstly, is the Winterbourne Wind Farm project from an environmental and socio-economic assessment perspective a compliance or a consent dud? That is, the environmental issues it raises are just insurmountable conflicts – project consent is just too hard or just not possible. There are too many fatal flaws its Environment Impact Statement (EIS).
  • Secondly the Elephant inquires as to just how economically bankable is Winterbourne Wind Farm? Wind Turbine technology costs have escalated 38% since 2021. The average price of seven of the most significant critical minerals for the wind industry has increased by 93% since January 2020. WWF promotes for 50KM of grid connection with transmission costs having escalated by up to 40%. From a revenue perspective who knows – no one has sighted the wind data – not at scoping – not at EIS – not even the DPE by their own admission at the recently held Community Consultation Q&A held at Walcha Vet Supplies. The Developer’s claim that the site produces acceptable wind profile at night is untested from independent review sources. How do we know once constructed and commissioned whether the WWF project is an ongoing commercial value proposition or stranded assets? The dollar value of any offtake agreement is uncertain as the Federal Government keeps changing the ground rules. The latest consideration announced by Chris Bowen – the Capacity Investment Scheme – asks more questions than it answers.

So, from an investors perspective this project might just present as ‘in the too hard basket’ – add to the mix significant disregard to Indigenous Culture, dodgy non-compliant noise assessments, insurmountable road and traffic issues – no identified resources, water and gravel. Vestas advised 2 years ago that Winterbourne Wind Farm Project had new owners – it had been on sold to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). Has anyone ever seen or heard from CIP – ZERO?

Successive delays must also create some unease amongst Host Landowners. The DPE at its recent Q&A referenced that Host Landholders on issues of decommissioning stepped into developers’ shoes. This may be an accurate conclusion which could increase the Hosts exposure, coupled with onerous obligations to bonds, insurances, and caveats etc.

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