The state government has defended approvals processes after an environment group took another swing at big renewable energy developments planned for the North-West.
Bob Brown Foundation campaigner Scott Jordan fired up over news the federal Environment Department would consider whether a 115 kilometre transmission line development linking UPC Renewables’ planned wind farms on Robbins Island and at nearby Jims Plain to the Tasmanian network at Hampshire, south of Burnie, required approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Mr Jordan described the transmission project as a “biodiversity catastrophe”.
“The proposed transmission line will carve a 70 kilometre long, 60 metre wide swathe through carbon rich rainforest, wet eucalypt and blackwood forests,” Mr Jordan said.
“It will compromise threatened black gum and Brookers gum ecological communities and six and a half kilometres of verified national and world heritage value areas.
“UPC’s own reports shows it may impact 22 threatened fauna species, three threatened flora species, five Tasmanian geoconservation sites and 129 registered Aboriginal heritage sites.
“All this on top of the migratory bird armageddon that is the wind farm itself,”
Energy Minister Guy Barnett said the government required wind farm proponents and operators to take measures to minimise the impact on threatened species during construction and operation.
“We remain committed to continue working with industry to review evolving technologies to minimise impact on wildlife,” Mr Barnett said.
He said transmission lines were also subject to rigorous planning and legislative procedures.
“A community consultation process is currently under way to determine the best route for the proposed Robbins Island wind farm,” Mr Barnett said.
“Everyone with an interest should engage in the consultation process.
“The government has complete confidence that Tasmania’s unique Aboriginal cultural heritage will be protected and that the Environment Protection Authority will assess any wind farm proposals and determine any conditions that are required to protect ecological sustainability.”
Mr Barnett said Tasmania had the chance to become the Battery of the Nation and double its renewable energy output.
He said that would inject billions of dollars into the state economy and create thousands of jobs, many of them in regional areas.
Mr Jordan said Mr Barnett was wrong to say community consultation about the transmission route was under way, and that the route had been chosen.
The Bob Brown Foundation said it supported “legitimate” renewable energy development.
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