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Birds fan wind farm concern  

Credit:  The Border Watch | www.borderwatch.com.au 11 July 2012 ~~

A Green Point farmer is calling for new bird studies to be undertaken before construction of the Green Point Wind Farm goes ahead on her neighbouring property.

Grant District Council has given development planning approval to wind farm developer Wind Prospect for the first three turbines of 25 to be constructed near the Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park in the next 12 months.

But a furious Jo Feast has raised concerns over the possible impact turbines could have on the thriving bird species at Pick Swamp, an extension to the conservation park that borders on her lush cattle and sheep farm.

Since the government purchased 250 hectares of private land on the western side of the pond system in 2004, the area has been developed into the Pick Swamp wetlands to improve the habitat for the region’s declining frog, fish, tree and bird species, including the endangered orange bellied-parrot.

“I have spotted the orange bellied-parrot on my farm and numerous other bird species,” Ms Feast said.

“Wedge tailed eagles nest just below the hill where the turbines will be built and we have brolgas that fly from our place to where the turbines will be – since the development of Pick Swamp, we have seen a huge increase in bird life on our farm.”

When the application for the Green Point Wind Farm was first lodged in 2001, the development had to comply with various Federal Government environmental laws, but after a bird survey was conducted and the orange bellied parrot was found in the area, the project was delayed.

Wind Prospect was forced to establish an alternative site for the endangered bird before the wind farm development could go ahead and, after numerous extensions were provided over the past decade, Grant District Council gave approval two weeks ago.

But Ms Feast said circumstances had changed since the last bird survey and another investigation was needed.

“The last bird survey was done well before Pick Swamp was developed,” she said.

“Circumstances have since changed and we are seeing a lot more birds here, so I am asking for another survey to be done.”

Meanwhile, Department of Environment and Heritage wetland restoration ecologist Steve Clarke said he was surprised to hear the wind farm development had been given the go-ahead.

“We have not been given any notice of that and we are busy gathering information from the Federal Government,” he said.

“Pick Swamp is a very significant environmental site and we are in the process of getting it recognised as a Ramsar site.”

Mr Clarke said bird activity had increased dramatically in the area since the Pick Swamp development was undertaken to attract 140 different species, with many birds staying in the area on a permanent basis.

Grant District Council development manager Rod Storan told The Border Watch that although council was restricted in its approval of the wind farm development, he has committed to working with Ms Feast in her push for an updated bird survey.

The turbine closest to Ms Feast’s home is estimated to be between 700 and 900 metres away – as approved in 2001 – while new development regulations require a 1km minimum distance from homes.

“The way legislation has been rewritten makes it hard for councils not to approve wind farms,” Mr Storan said, adding that council was bound by federal and state laws.

“But council is going to get legal advice on the issues raised by Ms Feast and we will also assist her in getting advice.”

Source:  The Border Watch | www.borderwatch.com.au 11 July 2012

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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