The Bald Hills wind farm developer has promised to spend almost $1.4 million, including $750,000 to protect the orange-bellied parrot, in a bid to revive the $220 million project.
Wind Power Pty Ltd has submitted a revamped proposal for the Victorian wind farm, which was blocked by federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell because of a claimed threat to survival of the parrot.
Senator Campbell agreed to reconsider the project after the company took legal action.
If the proposal is approved, almost $4million in public and private funds will be spent on the parrot. Senator Campbell had previously announced that $3.2million in taxpayers’ funds would be spent to protect the bird.
Wind Power director Andrew Newbold said yesterday the company would also commit $625,000 towards local community projects.
The $1.375 million will be spent over the 25-year life of the wind farm.
Senator Campbell called yesterday for public submissions on the company’s proposal, which will be put on the minister’s website by the end of today. Submissions will be accepted for 21 days.
“The information will be assessed thoroughly and as promptly as possible,” he said yesterday. “I want all stakeholders to have the opportunity to have their say.”
But Victorian Planning Minister Rob Hulls said the project had already “been through an exhaustive and independent public consultation process – and now Senator Campbell wants people in a clandestine way to write to him without any public mechanism for testing those submissions”.
“This has been a debacle from the moment Ian Campbell laid eyes on it,” Mr Hulls said.
“He has become an orange-bellied embarrassment as he simply makes things up as he goes along without any respect for due process.”
But Senator Campbell, who ignored his own departmental advice in his push to block the wind farm, continued to defend his decision yesterday. “My original decision to reject the Bald Hills wind farm was based on the Biosis cumulative impact study, which found that one orange-bellied parrot a year could be killed,” he said.
“This report concluded that while the impact of wind turbine collisions on the parrot – of which there are less than 50 breeding pairs left in the world – may be small, almost any negative impact on the species could be enough to tip it into extinction.”
But Mr Newbold said the company’s submission included a detailed rebuttal of the Biosis report.
“We maintain the impact is at worst equivalent to one bird every 1000 years,” he said. “There have been other wind farms approved by the government which have been a far greater threat to the parrot than Bald Hills.”
The funds should be used for the revegetation of the parrot’s habitat because “that goes to the actual cause” of why they are becoming extinct. “We obviously think we have addressed his concerns adequately.”
by Ewin Hannan
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