A community group trying to protect brolga habitats in south-west Victoria wants a moratorium on new wind farm proposals until international research is considered.
Brolga Recovery Group president Sue Dennis, of Kolora, yesterday told a Senate select committee hearing in Melbourne there were only about 450 of the birds listed in Victoria and may well be the only “pure” brolga left in Australia.
“This means it is critical the Victorian brolga population is given the highest level of protection in Australia,” Mrs Dennis said.
She said if all proposed wind farms in the south-west proceeded the birds future would be seriously compromised, particularly displacement from limited habitat.
Planning agreements on habitat offsets were “totally inadequate”, she said.
“There is nowhere to go to get justice for wildlife when developers ignore statutory requirements to protect wildlife,” Mrs Dennis told the hearing.
Senators heard the group had asked the state government’s environment and wildlife department for a moratorium on proposed wind farms in known brolga habitats so research findings on the sandhill crane in Texas could be considered.
“This research clearly shows that cranes similar in size and behaviour to our brolga are displaced by wind turbines to a distance of eight kilometres,” Mrs Dennis said in her submission.
She claimed observances that brolgas flew away from the Macarthur wind farm precinct when turbines were operating supported the US findings.
Her group called for buffer distances between nesting and flocking sites to be increased rather than decreased as sought by the industry.
Under questioning Mrs Dennis said she was unable to provide bird count figures beyond 2013, but said a new website had been created to collate reported sightings.
When one senator noted earlier evidence by an energy company that there were no recorded cases of brolgas killed by wind farms in Australia, Mrs Dennis said displacement was the biggest issue.
Her submission referred to a state government flora and fauna document describing the brolga as “significantly prone to future threats which are likely to result in extinction”.
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