Why has there not been any comment about this extraordinary decision by our
beloved Prime Minister?
Is he trying to protect his coal deposits or the Orange-bellied
Are there any OBP habitat anywhere near these proposed wind farms?
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Fury over wind farm decision
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By Jesse Hogan
April 5, 2006 - 5:14PM
An Orange-bellied parrot in the wild.
Photo: Andrew Pritchard
The Bracks Government has attacked as "blatantly political", a Federal
Government decision to block a controversial 52-turbine wind farm plan on
Victoria's south-east coast.
The $220 million Bald Hills development was approved by the Victorian
Government in 2004, but Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell today
announced he was overruling that decision over concerns for the future of an
endangered species of parrot.
A report commissioned by the minister investigated the effect of wind farms
on four species of migratory birds and concluded one species in particular,
the orange-bellied parrot, was at risk of extinction within 50 years.
"On the basis of the information that has been presented to me on the
orange-bellied parrot, I have decided not to approve the Bald Hills wind
farm," Senator Campbell said.
"I understand that this will be a disappointing outcome for the proponents
of the wind farm but it is very clear to me from reading this report that
every precaution should be taken to help prevent the extinction of this rare
Senator Campbell's intervention has angered the Bracks Government, with
Planning Minister Rob Hulls claiming the Federal Government had ignored the
project's environmental benefits.
"The decision by Ian Campbell today is a blatantly political decision _
there's no question of doubt about that. This is all about the Federal
Government forsaking renewable energy to look after its fossil fuel mates,"
"What he's really saying is that in the report that's been presented to him,
there has been no scientific evidence of the orange-bellied parrot on the
Bald Hills wind farm site.
"What there has been is some historical sightings, and also some potential
foraging sites between 10 and 35 kilometres from the Bald Hills wind farm
site that may or may not have been used by the orange-bellied parrot."
A spokesman for Wind Power, the developer of the proposed Bald Hills site,
did not return calls regarding the decision.
Senator Campbell first raised concerns in October 2004, putting the project
on hold until the report on the likely impact on birdlife had been
Tarwin Valley Coastal Guardians spokesman Tim Le Roy said he was "absolutely
delighted" the project has been rejected, almost four years since he began
the campaign against it.
"It was an unacceptable site from a fauna, landscape and community
perspective," he told theage.com.au.
"We were a bit behind at half-time when the State Government signed off on
this thing, and was the Federal (Environment) Minister our last hope? No it
wasn't. This community was never going to roll over for this developer, but
this (decision) has been very, very helpful."
The report said there were only between 99 and 200 of the orange-bellied
parrots left in Australia, and they were usually found within two kilometres
of Australia's coastline.
Even if only one orange-bellied parrot died each year as a result of flying
into a wind turbine, it could be enough to tip the species into extinction,
the report found.
Mr Le Roy said the 1500 submissions lodged against the project signalled
dominant opposition within the community to the wind farm plan.
"There were 40 in favour and most of those came from Melbourne, so I think
that the weight of public opinion in the community was opposing it," he
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