Apr 11, 2006

Campbell inconsistent on parrot wind farm threat

Campbell inconsistent on parrot wind farm threat


11 April 2006

The Howard Government’s inconsistency over wind farms is a threat to investment in the renewable energy industry.

Last week, Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell blocked the $220m Bald Hills wind farm in Victoria because one Orange-bellied Parrot per year may be threatened.

Yesterday, on ABC Radio in Hobart, the Minister stated he will probably not veto the $270m Heemskirk wind farm in north western Tasmania, despite the Minister’s own report stating the Tasmanian wind farm also threatens the Orange-bellied parrot.

The developer of the Tasmanian wind farm was concerned by the Minister’s decision because his project “might kill one parrot every 20 years, compared with one every 143 years at the vetoed Bald Hills wind farm.”

Decision making must be based on science – not politics – to ensure the integrity of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is not undermined.

Previously, no wind farms have been blocked because of concern for Orange-bellied Parrots. In fact, five wind farms were approved with management plans for parrots.

In 2001, the Environment Minister’s approval of a 130MW wind farm in Woolnorth, Tasmania included a management plan for parrots and a condition that if more than three Orange bellied Parrots were killed, the Minister must be notified (condition 6).

The Minister’s political use of Commonwealth environmental laws over the Bald Hills wind farm sends a strong signal that the Commonwealth will intervene in infrastructure projects for political, rather than sound scientific reasons.

The $220 million Bald Hills wind farm project would have reduced Australia’s greenhouse emissions by 435,000 tonnes a year. This project was approved two years ago by the Victorian Government after a strict environmental assessment.

The Environment Minister says he’s concerned the wind farm may threaten the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot, but climate change may devastate our biodiversity. According to the Science journal, Nature, more than 90 Australian animal species are at risk from climate change.

Instead of blocking clean energy projects, the Howard Government should seize the economic opportunities of the worldwide push to clean, renewable energy.