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Wind farmers offer cash to save parrots

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au

Ewin Hannan
August 18, 2006
THE Bald Hills wind farm developer has foreshadowed spending millions of dollars to protect the orange-bellied parrot and other threatened species in a bid to revive the $220 million project.

As police were called in to investigate $100,000 in damage to equipment on the wind farm site, developer Wind Power raised the prospect of committing a substantial sum to fund recovery programs for the parrot and other species.

The company is to submit a revamped proposal for the Victorian wind farm, which was blocked by Environment Minister Ian Campbell because of a perceived threat to the parrot. Senator Campbell has agreed to reconsider the project after the company took legal action.

Wind Power director Andrew Newbold told The Australian the company did not accept that the parrot was threatened by the wind farm, but was prepared to commit millions over the 25-year life of the project to manage all threatened species, including the parrot. “We would be prepared to commit large amounts of money which might add up to millions over 25 years to environmental recovery plans,” he said.

“It’s something we would believe in doing as part of good corporate behaviour.”

Mr Newbold said police had been called in to investigate damage to two monitoring towers on the proposed wind farm site in Gippsland. He said he believed the towers, valued at $50,000 each, had been cut down using bolt cutters or a hacksaw.

‘We’re clearly disappointed about the property damage, but other than that, we’ll let the police do their job,” he said.

Rather than spending funds on a parrot breeding program, the company was considering using the money to revegetate bird habitat, he said. “If you spend money on revegetation of habitat, then not only can possibly the OBP benefit, then so can other species,” he said.

Academic David Lindenmayer said approval of the wind farm could, contrary to Senator Campbell’s belief, benefit the orange-bellied parrot.

Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison welcomed the company’s funding offer.

“The Government’s own report said that preventing wind turbines would be of extremely limited beneficial value to conservation of the parrot without addressing very much greater cumulative effects that are currently operating,” she said.