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Fears for brolgas near wind farm

Birregurra residents are concerned a Colac district wind farm will harm brolgas and migratory birds.

The Burnett family live at Birregurra, three kilometres from the nearest proposed turbine at the Mount Gellibrand wind farm.

Nigel, Tanya and Jorda Burnett say they’ve been campaigning to protect brolgas since they found out the wind farm received approval about 12 months ago.

“Unfortunately for us we knew about the permit a bit later on,” Jorda said.

“We’ve been writing to ministers, writing to DSE and to council,” she said.

Jorda said her family’s main concerns included wind turbines being in the path of migratory birds, the disruption of brolga habitat and the proximity of the turbines to the Western District Lakes Ramsar site.

The Ramsar convention recognises the Western District Lakes as an internationally significant wetland because of the number of migratory birds visiting from Asian countries.

“In our opinion, all birds will be exposed to trauma by turbine blades and overhead distribution lines,” Jorda said.

“We’re just trying to highlight these concerns, we are not against renewable energy.

“We think there are better places for wind farms.”

Acciona Energy is building the 63-turbine farm, after building wind farms at Waubra near Ballarat and Gunning in New South Wales.

Acciona’s engineering, construction and operations director Brett Wickham said the organisation had a bat and bird plan in place.

“I guess just like any of our other sites we take it very seriously,” Mr Wickham said.

He said the bat and avifauna management plan took into account the brolgas’ habitats, as well as indigenous and migratory birds.

“That’s been implemented at this stage, not necessarily

because a brolga has impacted with a wind farm, it’s that we don’t know how they’re going to interact with them,” Mr Wickham said.

Mr Wickham said Acciona would monitor the birds’ behaviour during construction and when the turbines were working.

“If they’re displaying risky behaviour then we actually have to shut down turbines,” he said.

“Our intention is not to have them hit.”