Forestry awards Investigation Permits for renewable energy opportunities

Forestry Corp of NSW

Forestry Corporation has today reached an important milestone to explore the potential for windfarms within public pine plantations to contribute to the NSW transition to renewable energy.

Chief Executive Officer Anshul Chaudhary has announced that Neoen, Iberdrola Australia, TagEnergy and Mainstream Renewables Power and Someva Renewables joint venture have been awarded permits to investigate wind farm opportunities in some pine plantations in the Central West and Southern Inland regions.

Mr Chaudhary said the permits will enable the proponents to investigate windfarm opportunities in pine plantations in the State Forests around Bondo, Orange, Black Springs and Sunny Corner.

“Today’s announcement marks the start of the investigation phase under what will be a comprehensive and considered planning process,” he said.

“A permit is not a consent to proceed with a project, but it will allow the proponent to start the detailed studies to see if a project is viable within each investigation permit area. Each company will need to conduct detailed wind farm feasibility studies, which will commence with the installation of wind and weather monitoring equipment on meteorological masts.

“Each company will also undertake extensive community consultation and work with local communities to consider and address potential concerns around environmental impact, noise, landscape and visual impacts, traffic and transport issues, hazard and risks, heritage, water and soil impacts and waste management.”

Once this work is completed the companies would submit the projects for consideration by the State Government and if approved, Forestry Corporation will issue a Construction and Operations permit.

The combined investigation, consultation, planning and approval stages could be expected to take between three and six years. Any approved development would be unlikely to be in operation until the early 2030s.

“The proponents have demonstrated a strong commitment to build long-term relationships with the local communities and stakeholders, First Nations groups and the Local Government,” Mr Chaudhary said.

In 2021 NSW parliament passed changes to the Forestry Act 2012 which allowed renewable energy projects to be considered in softwood plantations.

As public land managers Forestry Corporation has a role to play in the transition to renewable energy in NSW.

“Wind farms can co-exist with plantation forests without having any long-term impact on tree growth or plantation operations, as the wind turbines are situated well above the top of the trees.

Pine plantations are large areas often in windy locations, with access to powerlines, and a good existing road network,” Mr Chaudhary said.

“Each project will have a Community Benefit Fund equivalent to a value per megawatt of installed capacity, delivering direct benefit back to impacted residents and the broader community.”


The pine plantation sites have been considered for wind turbine projects because these state forests have existing infrastructure in place, such as roads and powerlines, and are often located some distance from neighbouring residential estates. Native forests are not included in these project areas.

Wind farms can co-exist with plantation forests without having any long-term impact on tree growth, plantation operations or timber production, as the wind turbines are situated above the forests.

Wind farms operate in forests in Canada, Germany, Sweden, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and similar proposals are being considered for plantations in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

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