February 17, 2011

Guardians say a brolga death every five years is one too many

Mark Lee, www.spec.com.au 17 February 2011

A single brolga could be killed in a collision with a wind turbine roughly every five years if the Penshurst Wind Farm goes ahead as planned.

However, Southern Grampians landscape Guardians president, Keith Staff, claims it would still be one too many as far as brolgas were concerned.

Groups opposing the growing number of wind farms in the south-west have been vocal about the impact of turbines on brolgas which are a threatened species in Victoria.

Shallow wetlands in the south-west region serve as breeding grounds for the 1.8 metre tall birds that do not migrate but flock in areas close to their breeding locations.

But modelling completed for an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) referral application by environmental consultant Biosis Research, indicates that only one brolga will die every five to eight years if the current layout and was approved by the State Government.

Brolgas are listed as a threatened species in Victoria with only 200-250 nesting pairs remaining in the state.

The EES referral application also said a ‘buffer zone’ of 987.8 metres would be established around known brolga sites.

RES developer, Simon Kerrison, said it was not yet known how an extra death every five to eight years, caused by a wind farm, would affect the overall brolga population.

He said the modelling completed be Biosis Research would be applied to a population viability analysis conducted by Melbourne University to determine how these deaths would impact the species.

Speaking for the Southern Grampians Landscape Guardians, president Keith Staff, would not be drawn on whether the death of one brolga every five years could be considered reasonable in the circumstances.

He said “any death was one too many when brolgas (were) concerned”.

Mr Staff also said the Landscape Guardians believed the initial assessments were “totally inadequate” and did not address whether brolgas would stay in the region.

“It’s quite easy to say only one will die every five years,” he said,

“That’s because they will not stay and nest … they are more likely to simply disappear.”

But Mr Kerrison said Biosis Research had conducted a 12-week study on the proposed site and at another location near Mortlake to monitor how far brolgas travelled from their nest each day.

He said 687 metres was found to be the distance required to steer clear of brolgas, with the DSE requesting an additional 300 metres be added to the buffer.

But Mr Staff said more brolgas would be killed by other wind farm infrastructure including access tracks and overhead wires.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/02/17/guardians-say-a-brolga-death-every-five-years-is-one-too-many/