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Giant wind farm appeals order for turbine shutdowns as opponents fight approval 

Credit:  Sophie Vorrath | 8 March 2023 | reneweconomy.com.au ~~

The developers of a 900MW wind farm in north-west Tasmania have appealed the Environment Protection Authority ruling that its turbines must shut down for a total of five months of each year, saying the extraordinary condition renders the project unviable.

Acen Australia on Tuesday lodged an appeal in the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, according to an ABC News report, at the same time as two separate appeals were also lodged against the EPA’s conditional approval of the project.

The Robbins Island Renewable Energy Park proposes to install up to 122 wind turbines over the western two-thirds of the north-west Tasmanian island and potentially battery storage.

It is being built alongside the nearby Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Park, also owned by Acen, which will include up to 31 wind turbines and solar PV up to 240MW.

The Robbins Island project includes construction of up to three substations on Robbins Island, underground electrical infrastructure, and construction of a bridge between Robbins Island and the mainland and of a wharf for delivery of project components.

In December of last year, the controversial project received approval from the state’s EPA, but under the condition that all 122 of its turbines are shut down for a total of five months of each year, to protect the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot during periods of migration.

Acen Australia chief operations officer David Pollington says the company came to the conclusion that the “disappointing” and “confusing” EPA ruling “just simply meant the project could not proceed,” the ABC reports.

“I’ve been in the industry more than 30 years now and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Pollington said.

“It certainly had not been communicated [or] discussed with us in any shape or form during the six years of work that we did with the various government departments.”

Opponents dig in

The project – while recently backed by the local council – has, however, attracted a significant amount of opposition locally and more broadly in Tasmania, based on concerns of its impact on Robbins Island and its flora and fauna.

This opposition has this week culminated in two separate appeals lodged with TCAT against the wind farm’s approval by the EPA.

The first, from the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF), claims the approval is “half-baked” and “rushed”, while another from the Circular Head Coastal Awareness Network (CHCAN) argues the visual impact of the turbines has not been adequately assessed.

The BBF argues that the massive wind farm has no place in Australia’s “most significant migratory bird flyway,” and that the orange-bellied parrot is just one of five critically endangered species on the island that also deserve the consideration of the EPA.

The appeal lodged by CHCAN decribes the height of the wind turbines – up to 270 metres – as “deplorable” and “a blemish on the natural environment of Robbins Island.”

“It is the wrong location for a large-scale industrial wind farm such as has been approved by council and we have high community support to challenge this appalling approval,” group chair and Circular Head Councillor Steve Pilkington said.

Source:  Sophie Vorrath | 8 March 2023 | reneweconomy.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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