Apr 7, 2006

Howard Government yellow bellied on climate change

Howard Government yellow bellied on climate change


7 April 2006

The Howard Government’s decision to block the Bald Hills wind farm project in Victoria because one orange-bellied parrot per year may be threatened is absurd and must be reversed.

I am very concerned the decision to block the Bald Hills wind farm is all about politics and not about parrots.

Previously, no wind farms have been blocked because of concern for orange-bellied parrots. In fact, four have been approved with management plans for parrots.

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.

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

The expansion of renewable energy is vital for avoiding dangerous climate change and presents significant economic opportunities.

On 23 August 2001, the Minister for the Environment (Robert Hill) approved a 130MW wind farm in Woolnorth, Tasmania provided that Hydro-Electric Corporation “prepared a plan to repair or mitigate damage to the habitat of the Orange-bellied Parrot”.

On 17 October 2002, the Minister for the Environment (David Kemp) approved a 150MW wind farm near Portland in Victoria provided that Pacific Hydro

“prepared a management plan … mitigate impacts in the event of Orange-bellied Parrot mortalities as a result of collision with turbines”.

In 2002 and 2003, the Department of Environment approved wind farms near Port MacDonnell, South Australia and at Jims Plain in northwestern Tasmania where concerns over the Orange-bellied Parrot were dealt with by management plans.

When it comes to taking the strong action necessary to avoid dangerous climate change, the Howard Government has shown it has a yellow-belly.