January 16, 2013

Habitat could be lost to wind farm development

By Darren Snyder | Mudgee Guardian | Jan. 16, 2013 | www.mudgeeguardian.com.au

Construction of Crudine Ridge Wind Farm could potentially involve the permanent loss of more than 70 hectares of habitat according to the developers’ environmental assessment.

Before Christmas, Wind Prospect CWP released its environmental assessment as part of the wind farm’s planning approval process. The document is open for public comment and accessible via several sources including Mid-Western Regional Council until March 13.

The wind farm’s ecological study suggests another 31.58 hectares of land could be affected temporarily during construction.

The study was conducted by Eco Logical Australia and completed in September 2012.

Removal of habitat is estimated to include the cutting of 920 hollow-bearing trees (HBT). . It is also estimated to be 4.61 per cent of the total-hollow-bearing trees in the study area.

Eco Logical Australia said in its report the clearing of trees will mainly be in areas of pasture with scattered trees, and for overhead electrical infrastructure.

“This estimate is indicative only and likely to be an over estimate as roads and turbines have been sited to avoid HBTs,” the report said.

“This clearance comprises the permanent removal of 3.69 ha of remnant woodland, 60.11 ha of derived grassland/native pasture, and 0.07 ha of low condition vegetation (predominantly exotic with some native species present).

The company said removal and or loss of some vegetation for the proposal was unavoidable.

“However, all unavoidable native vegetation clearance has been minimised and it is proposed that all remaining impacts will be offset in accordance with a quantitative assessment using “maintain or improve” principles as determined by the use of the Biobanking credit calculator,” the report said.

“The results of the Biobank credit calculations is included in a stand-alone report and summarised in the proposed offset strategy.”

A total of 5.27 hectares of the Threatened Ecological Community (TEC) or Box Gum Woodland (BGW) would be permanently affected by the proposal and 0.11 ha temporarily impacted.

The risk of bats and birds colliding with turbines was also assessed, taking into account the behaviour, flight patterns and proximity of the turbines to roosting habitat.

In September 2012, there were five properties for sale and three properties whose owners were interested in entering into in perpetuity conservation covenants in the vicinity of the project site.

These properties are capable of meeting offset requirements for the wind farm.

If property purchases do not meet a minimum offset outcome, Wind Prospect said it would contribute funding to the Central North Livestock Health and Pest Authority or the Department of Lands for the duration of the project to assist in the management of a Travelling Stock Reserve next to the project site.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/16/habitat-could-be-lost-to-wind-farm-development/