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Turbine delay as bats stall Dundonnell wind farm plan

A yellow-bellied bat has put the brakes on plans for a massive wind farm near Dundonnell.

The 89-turbine project will have to jump through another hurdle after Planning Minister Matthew Guy ordered an environmental effects statement (EES) to see if there would be any impact on the yellow-bellied sheath-tailed bat.

Known to carry rabies, the bat is commonly found across the east coast of Australia and has goannas and habitat loss among its listed threats.

But the study to see if wind turbines are also on the predator list could take as long as a year.

The environmentally-conscious decision by the minister was attacked in Parliament by The Greens last week who labelled the EES time-wasting red tape.

“The main threats to it are tree clearing and forestry,” Greens MLC Greg Barber said.

He said the species was not classified as vulnerable

“They’re found in two thirds of Australia and parts of Papua New Guinea.”

He said the EES left the minister in command of the project, with no exact timeline on how long the study could take.

“It’s potentially open ended, the minister is in the driving seat,” he said.

Mr Barber said the minister was using the EES scheme to pander to anti-wind groups by slowing down the development process.

In his decision, Minister Guy said the project could also impact Brolga and other protected migratory birds.

Moyne Shire renewable energy officer Russell Guest said the council had not heard from developer NewEn Power since last year.

He said some EES studies could take up to a year.

“It depends on the level of complexity involved,” he said.

In 2011, the Penshurst wind farm was also ordered to undergo an EES because of the southern bent-wing bat.

NewEn Power was unavailable for comment yesterday.