The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania is calling for more research into the environmental impact of the Robbins Island windfarm
Tensions remain high over the proposed Robbins Island wind farm, with the Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania saying Aboriginal voices have been ignored and research insufficient.
The Land Council chairman Michael Mansell said he was particularly concerned by a lack of research done by UPC into the risk these turbines pose to mutton birds.
"In UPC's environmental impact statement, there's no mention of mutton birds," Mr Mansell said.
"There's no way the adult birds can get to the rookeries without hitting the turbines.
"They keep avoiding the question. They said they'd contacted Aborigines on the matter, but they haven't consulted us at all.
"We know Aboriginal mutton birders who've worked on both Robbins and Walker Island, and they're saying these birds are going to be slaughtered."
Mr Mansell said UPC had offered "a brief" to the Land Council detailing their plans and the research they've done into the environmental impact of the project, but that what was needed was a proper, detailed discussion between the parties.
"We don't need a brief, we need them to show us specifically that they have done the proper research."
A spokesperson for UPC said Mr Mansell had been approached a number of times to offer a sit-down meeting, but that he had refused.
In a statement, the spokesperson for the company said "UPC has offered a briefing to Mr Mansell's organisation on at least three occasions. On every occasion, this has been refused.
"The offer to meet with him, to provide a briefing and answer his questions stands."
"UPC's assessment on the impact on mutton birds on Robbins Island is very low. This view has been informed by our own assessment and the experience of other windfarms operating near mutton bird rookeries on the North-West coast."
"If Mr Mansell's organisation has different information, again UPC is happy to engage directly with him or his representatives."
This debate has been ongoing between the parties since 2019, with conflict within the community about whether the site is the right choice for the project.
Another key issue presented by Mr Mansell was that the Robbins Island site is on historical Aboriginal land.
"Over the years, there must have been thousands of people buried there," Mr Mansell said.
"If we've got massive concrete structures on the island, from an Aboriginal perspective, the land will be unrecognisable," he said.
"Our culture is under threat enough as it is."
Mr Mansell conceded UPC have done a survey of the area with Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania, but said the depth of the survey was insufficient.
The spokesperson for UPC said there had been ongoing consultation and engagement with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community throughout the project's development, through "the formal assessment process and through the broader community consultation process."
"The Aboriginal Heritage survey methodology is approved by Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania.
"The supporting documents for this work when approved are circulated to Aboriginal groups in the state."
The development application for the Robbins Island windfarm is currently being assessed by the state and federal environmental protection agencies, and is expected to be released in May 2021.
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