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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

18 October 2002

Portland Wind Farm Approved With Conditions


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, has given environmental approval, subject to conditions, to the proposed Portland Wind Farm under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The proposal involves the establishment of four wind farms near Portland, in the southwest of Victoria, at Ngoorantook, Cape Bridgewater, Cape Nelson, and Cape Sir William Grant.

The proposal was assessed under an accredited assessment arrangement with the Victorian Government under the Victorian Environment Effects Act 1978. The assessment process highlighted concerns over the risk of bird collisions, particularly the Orange-bellied Parrot, with the wind turbines.

"I initiated an independent expert review by Uniquest Pty Ltd, which confirmed the findings of the assessment report and found that there was a very low risk that an increase in bird deaths from the development would interfere with the recovery of the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot," Dr Kemp said.

Predicting a risk of collision of only one bird every five years, the Uniquest report states: "The model suggests that, at worst, the wind farm would increase the extinction risk over 20 years by less than 1% in absolute terms. This conclusion is robust to some uncertainty in the model and to variation in collision rates over time."

"I have also required that plans for ongoing management and monitoring of Commonwealth listed birds and their habitat are submitted for my approval prior to construction at each of the four wind farm sites," Dr Kemp said.

"The growing number of wind farm proposals has the potential to impact on listed bird species and it is important that we are able to assess the risks accurately. I intend to develop guidelines for future proposals that ensure the most effective modelling methods are used.

"Having made the decision, I am very pleased to note that this proposal and flow-on development has the potential to inject nearly $100 million into the regional economy and nearly $300 million into the Australian economy. The establishment of a wind energy industry could create up to 750 jobs for Portland and 1,350 jobs for regional Victoria.

"There are long term environmental benefits from wind energy generation, particularly in reducing greenhouse gases. This proposal is likely to reduce Victoria's greenhouse emissions by the equivalent of 900 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This represents one per cent of Australia's national reduction target agreed under the Kyoto protocol."

A copy of the Minister's approval decision and conditions for the proposal is available on the Environment Australia web site at: http://www.ea.gov.au/epbc/publicnotices/index.html.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia