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Wind farm eagles worry  

Credit:  Blair Richards, The Mercury, www.themercury.com.au 24 April 2011 ~~

The Environment Protection Authority has asked the proponent of a $500 million Central Highlands wind farm for more information on the risks the farm’s turbines pose to wedge-tailed eagles.

The company behind the proposal says it is confident of gaining final approval from the EPA and is still on track to start work as intended in 2012.

NP Power hopes to build the state’s first privately owned wind farm at Cattle Hill on the eastern shore of Lake Echo.

It will also be the state’s largest, with 100 turbines producing up to 300mW, enough to power 100,000 homes.

By comparison the wind farm at Woolnorth in Circular Head has 62 turbines generating 140mW.

At least 19 wedge-tails have been confirmed killed at Woolnorth since it began operating in 2002.

The Parks and Wildlife Service estimates only 130 pairs of the endangered wedge-tailed eagle breed successfully in Tasmania each year.

NP Power submitted its original development proposal and environmental management plan for Cattle Hill to the EPA in June last year.

However, the EPA asked the company to provide more information supporting elements of the project, in particular eagle collision risk monitoring.

Cattle Hill project manager Shane Bartel said the company had mapped eagle pathways in the area and would prohibit placement of turbines in areas of high collision risk, reducing the risk to the giant birds.

If and when approval is gained from the EPA, the proposal must then go before the Central Highlands Council.

“We’re focused on the approval with the EPA right now and we’re expecting we’ll have approval by the end of June,” Mr Bartel said.

The US-based NP Power builds solar, gas and biomass power plants, but wind forms the largest part of its renewable energy business.

Across Australia and New Zealand NP Power, in partnership with Babcock and Brown, has developed and completed 510mW of operating wind farms with an additional 42mW currently under construction.

It hopes to begin advertising tenders for construction at Cattle Hill later this year, with work to begin in the second quarter of 2012.

The company anticipates that 50 to 75 contractors will be employed during the two-year construction period, with the wind farm to begin producing power in 2014.

Source:  Blair Richards, The Mercury, www.themercury.com.au 24 April 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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