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New technology will be trialled at a Tasmanian wind farm to stop wedge-tailed eagles from being killed by wind turbines.
Several monitoring towers will identify eagles and work out whether the bird’s flight path will collide with a turbine, before shutting the turbine down.
The Cattle Hill Wind Farm in Tasmania’s Central Plateau is under construction, and will be the first wind farm in the country to trial the technology.
Goldwind Australia managing director John Titchen said 16 monitoring towers would be interspersed between 48 wind turbines.
Mr Titchen said the birds could be detected within a kilometre of the monitoring tower.
“The bird is tracked as to which direction it’s heading, and then depending on if it’s heading towards a turbine, then the signal will be sent to the turbine to turn that turbine off during that danger period,” he said.
“The turbines do slow down fairly quickly, within seconds, and so there is time to shut down turbines based on knowing the distance the bird is from the turbine.”
Mr Titchen said the turbines will be placed away from “high utilisation areas” of the eagles, at least one kilometre away from nests.
Protection measure questioned
Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagles are classified as endangered, with the adult population estimated at about 350 breeding pairs.
Wildlife biologist Nick Mooney said he was hopeful the technology worked, and that it was hard to estimate how many eagles were killed by wind turbines.
“Most eagles found dead are found immediately under the turbines, but that’s only the ones killed instantly or catastrophically injured and fall,” he said.
“We have no idea how many wobble off and die elsewhere.”
Mr Mooney said the threat of turbines would increase over time as wind farms were rolled out across the landscape.
“Now is a really good time to intercede and really get it right because the future of Tasmania is renewable energy.”
Earlier this month it was reported that there had been a 140 per cent increase in the number of wedge-tailed eagles that died after coming into contact with electricity infrastructure in Tasmania.
The TasNetworks annual report showed 29 eagles were killed in 2017-18, a rise from 12 in the previous year.
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