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Tanya Plibersek blocks Victorian government’s plan to build wind turbine plant at Port of Hastings 

Credit:  Graham Readfearn | Sun 7 Jan 2024 | theguardian.com ~~

Environment minister says ‘large areas of [wetland] will be destroyed or substantially modified’ by the proposal for windfarm development.

Tanya Plibersek has blocked plans by the Victorian government to build a plant to assemble wind turbines for offshore windfarms because of “clearly unacceptable” impacts on internationally important wetlands.

Plans to build the terminal at the Port of Hastings – seen as critical for the state’s strategy to develop an offshore wind industry – included dredging up to 92 hectares (227 acres) of the Western Port Ramsar wetland and reclaiming 29 hectares of seabed.

The environment minister wrote in her rejection of the proposals that “large areas of the [wetland] will be destroyed or substantially modified as a result of direct impacts of the proposed action”.

The Victorian government set aside $27m in its last budget to progress the development, which it said would support “wind construction and delivery of up to 1GW per year” and serve multiple windfarm developments.

But Plibersek said the plan was likely to cause “irreversible damage to the habitat of waterbirds and migratory birds and marine invertebrates and fish” that were critical to the wetland.

The wetlands were one of Victoria’s three most important sites for wading birds, and regularly supported 20,000 or more waterbirds, the minister wrote, and the impacts of dredging and reclaiming large areas could not be mitigated or offset.

Plibersek’s department had advised the wetlands supported at least 1% of the global population of the eastern curlew and the curlew sandpiper – both critically endangered.

Eastern curlews migrate about 11,000km from Siberia and north-eastern China for the Australian summer.

Western Port was listed under the Ramsar convention for internationally important wetlands in 1982.

Sean Dooley, of BirdLife Australia, said: “Ramsar sites are not declared on a whim. This is a hugely important area for Victoria, for Australia and internationally. On principle, to destroy that amount of Ramsar wetland is not on.”

The federal opposition environment spokesperson, Senator Jonathon Duniam, said: “Victorian and federal Labor’s net-zero targets are a mess.

“They are clearly rushing this transition which will set Australia back and push power prices further up. Labor needs to be careful that they don’t wreck the environment in their renewables-only pursuit of net zero targets.”

Victoria has ambitions to deliver Australia’s first offshore windfarm developments and had described the project as “critical, nation-leading, enabling infrastructure” that would receive, assemble and install offshore windfarm foundations, towers and turbines.

Source:  Graham Readfearn | Sun 7 Jan 2024 | theguardian.com

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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