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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
21 December 2006
The Bald Hills wind farm has been given federal approval subject to key changes to the turbine layout and strict conditions to protect the Orange-bellied Parrot and other threatened species, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.
Senator Campbell said given changes to the reconfiguration of the 52 turbine wind farm in South Gippsland and strict conditions to ensure protection of threatened and migratory species, the proposal had been approved under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
“My concern with the initial wind farm proposal was the risks posed to the threatened Orange-bellied Parrot which I believed were unacceptable,” Senator Campbell said.
“I appreciate the acknowledgement by the proponents in their varied proposal of the concerns relating to the Orange-bellied Parrot and other species and appreciate the changes proposed to address those risks.
“In particular, the proponents have moved 6 turbines that were previously within 2km of the coast to ensure that there is no impact on the migratory path of the Orange-bellied Parrot. A commitment has also been made to closely and constantly monitor the impact on the Orange-bellied Parrot and other species and to implement procedures to mitigate any potential impact in accordance with the latest and best advice.
My approval of the Bald Hills wind farm is subject to adherence to these commitments and a number of other conditions to protect threatened and migratory species, including:
“Having thoroughly considered all information presented to me in relation to the proposal, I am satisfied that the strict conditions attached to this approval will address the risk to threatened species that may use the area,” Senator Campbell said.
“Bald Hills Wind Farm Pty Ltd will also contribute $30,000 per year to conservation-related actions for all threatened bird species along the South Gippsland coast for the life of the wind farm.”
My decision on the original Bald Hills proposal was based on a Biosis report which found that while the impact of wind turbine collisions on the Orange-bellied Parrot may be small, up to one bird death per year, it concluded that almost any negative impact on the species could be sufficient to tip the balance against its continued existence. The report concluded:
“Given that the Orange-bellied Parrot is predicted to have an extremely high probability of extinction in its current situation, almost any negative impact on the species could be sufficient to tip the balance against its continued existence. In this context it may be argued that any avoidable deleterious effect - even the very minor predicted impacts of turbine collisions - should be prevented.”
Wind farm collision risk for birds – Cumulative risks for threatened and migratory species, p47 (Orange-bellied Parrot report)
“I considered very carefully the 160-plus public comments and advice from relevant experts, including the advice of Biosis that the risks to Orange-bellied Parrots could be adequately managed through the changes to and conditions placed on the proposal.
“Consideration of any project that may have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance, including nationally threatened and migratory species, will always need careful consideration on a case-by-case basis.
“Wind energy has an important role to play in Australia’s developing renewable energy sector. The Australian Government is committed to working with state and territory governments to develop a National Code for the location of wind farms,” Senator Campbell said.
Further information about the approval conditions along with full details of the submission are available from the Department of the Environment Heritage web site at www.deh.gov.au
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902