Over two years from 2017 over 300 volunteers occupied proposed logging coupes in the Frankland River area of takayna/Tarkine, successfully defending two Wedge tailed eagle nests. It was a terrific success.
The proposed Robbins Island wind farm has seven such nests.
And while the provisions applied to wind farms require a 1km buffer around each eagle nest, the evidence is showing this to be little more than window dressing.
The Bluff Hill Point wind farm reported 13 Wedge tailed eagle deaths, and 3 White bellied sea eagle deaths in the first seven years of operation.
The Studland Bay wind farm reported 5 Wedge tailed eagle deaths in it’s first 5 years.
The Musselroe wind farm reported 11 Wedge tailed eagle deaths and one White bellied sea eagle deaths in the six years since construction in 2013.
Expert Nick Mooney believes these figure are under reported, as they wont count injured eagles that later died outside the reporting area.
These existing wind farms have 37, 25 and 53 turbines each. Robbins Island will have up to 200.
The rotor diameter on these existing wind farms ranges from 66m to 90m. Robbins Island will be up to 220m.
The ABC reported an estimated additional 29 eagles were killed by powerlines associated with wind farms in 2018-19.
There are just 350 breeding pairs of the endangered Tasmanian Wedge tailed eagles left. They pair for life. The loss of one partner ends the reproductive capacity of the other.
As a result of this and attrition of chicks and juveniles from other sources, expert Nick Mooney suggests that you need 12 extra chicks to compensate for every eagle lost to a wind farm.
Clearly, there is an unreasonable threat posed to eagles from this project.
And it’s not just the eagles.
Both the Orange bellied parrot and the Swift Parrot pass over Robbins Island migrating to breeding grounds on the west coast of Tasmania. Both these critically endangered birds will have to navigate the completely foreign threat of up to 200 towering turbines with blades travelling at up to 23 metres per second, and the associated 50 metre high transmission lines.
Joining them will be the over two dozen EPBC listed migratory, endangered and critically endangered bird species that traverse, feed or nest on the island.
To facilitate the construction and service access, a 1.8m long causeway will be constructed to the island, permanently changing the flushing of the mudflats on Robbins Passage impacting the fish nurseries and the wading birds who rely on the heath of this habitat to survive.
And to feed the power to the grid a 170km long, 60 metre wide easement is required for the high voltage transmission line, complete with access roads to the 400 transmission towers will be required. This easement will cut through both farmland and forests, including existing conservation reserves and areas recommended for National Heritage listing. These areas are home to Masked owl, Tasmanian devil and Spot tailed quoll.
When UPC set out to build the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere we all understandably wanted to applaud this renewable milestone. Their decision to locate it on a site that can only be described as having the worst possible ecological outcomes means we must speak out for the voiceless.
Renewable must not mean a free pass.