Rare parrot is back ... on desal site

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Rare parrot is back ... on desal site
From: "Alastair Smith" <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 09:30:24 +1000
>From yesterday's The Australian Newspaper

THE orange-bellied parrot, which threatened to kill off a large Victorian
wind farm, has now emerged as a potential barrier to the state's planned
desalination plant.

The Australian has learnt that the proposed site for the $3.1billion plant,
near Wonthaggi, southeast of Melbourne, is on the doorstep of one of the
endangered parrot's favourite winter feeding grounds. 

A recent sighting of the bird at the nearby Shallow Inlet estuary, coupled
with 22 sightings in 20 years at Powlett River, within 2km of the planned
desalination plant, have put the nation's peak bird body on edge. 

"It could pose a problem from the orange-bellied parrot's point of view,"
Birds Australia orange-bellied parrot project officer Chris Tzaros said. 

He said the desalination plant had far greater potential to affect the
parrot than the Bald Hills wind farm, situated 5km from the nearest known
sighting of the bird. 

"Powlett River is a completely different scenario. We actually have
orange-bellied parrot sighting records at the Powlett River estuary and
there's an extensive spread of salt marsh in that area," Mr Tzaros said. "I
would certainly want to see more details of what's being planned and Birds
Australia would certainly be putting in a submission if we felt the
situation called for it." 

The parrots feed on the beaded glasswort and shrubby glasswort that grows in
the salty marshes on the river's banks, and bird experts say the loss of
this habitat could further reduce their numbers. 

Any perceived risk to the birds - of which there are just 140 left in the
wild - could see the desalination plant referred to thefederal Government
for approval, creating the potential for it to become a Bald Hills-style
political football in the middle of a federal election campaign. 

The Bracks Government announced the plant's location last week before
undertaking an environmental effects statement, although state Department of
Sustainability and Environment officials said they were examining the impact
on the parrot when contacted yesterday. 

Local federal Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, who opposed the Bald Hills
windfarm, said the desalination plant had been plonked in the bird's habitat
without any study of its impact. 

"The bird has already cost one minister his job," he said, referring to
former federal environment minister Ian Campbell. 

"The orange-bellied parrot is a serious issue, along with 22other species
(in the area) that are endangered," Mr Broadbent said. 

He also said he had witnessed a marina development at nearby San Remo
blocked because of the presence of a sea slug, so the risk to the parrot
could easily stop the desalination plant. 

The Bald Hills windfarm - situated about 50km east of Powlett River - was
eventually approved after the pro-parrot Senator Campbell lost a prolonged
battle to block its construction. 

Senator Campbell was demoted from the environment portfolio soon afterwards.

The presence of the parrot at Powlett River is confirmed in planning
documents discussing the Wonthaggi windfarm, just a few kilometres from the
proposed desalination plant. 

A submission by the developers of the windfarm, Windpower, found that the
site was between the bird's feeding grounds at Powlett River and Venus Bay,
but concluded that the birds would not land on the windfarm so it posed no

The Bracks Government has not released the precise location of the plant yet
but maps contained in the feasibility study show it is to be situated about
2km from Powlett River. 

"The proper environmental processes will be undertaken," a spokesman for
Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites said yesterday. 

"We are confident there will be no issues with that."



To unsubscribe from this mailing list, 
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU