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Controversial wind farm approved

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has given the go-ahead for the $220 million Bald Hills wind farm, reversing a controversial decision based on a perceived threat to the rare orange-bellied parrot.

Senator Campbell today said the wind farm had been given federal approval subject to key changes to the turbine layout and strict conditions to protect the parrot and other threatened species.

But local Liberal MP Russell Broadebent and environment groups immediately attacked the reversal.

Senator Campbell said changes to the windfarm proposal included a two-kilometre turbine-free corridor between the farm and the South Gippsland coastline, which means six planned turbines positions have moved.

No turbines can stand within 300 metres of the Bald Hills Wetland Reserve or within 800 metres of the edge of the largest area of open water habitat within the reserve.

And a qualified independent observer will monitor the site for birdstrike and its affect on any other species.

Senator Campbell said that he was satisfied the new conditions attached to the approval would address any risk to threatened species.

But Liberal MP Russell Broadbent has said he was disappointed at Senator Campbell’s decision.

“This is a real blow to the people of this area who have fought long and hard to protect endangered wildlife and the amenity and beauty of the Gippsland coastline,” Mr Broadbent said.

And Tarwin Valley Coastal Guardians immediately vowed to fight the controversial facility on the South Gippsland coast.

“This development has been opposed by many major environmental groups in the state,” spokesperson Tim Le Roy said.

He said objectors included 1500 individuals, the Australian Conservation Foundation, the local state Greens candidate and South Gippsland Conservations Society.

TVCG has called on energy retailers and banks in Victoria not to support power purchases or provide finance to the facility.

“We have written to every energy retailer in Australia outlining the community, landscape and wildlife impacts of this facility,” Mr Le Roy said.

“Many have responded saying they will not support energy purchases from these controversial facilities. TVCG will be asking banks to adopt a similar line and not finance these facilities.”

theage.com.au, with AAP

By Renee Switzer

theage.com.au