The project was planned to produce 600 MW, but that has now been scaled back to 400 MW consisting of 80 wind turbines. Even then, there would be unavoidable impacts to some indigenous species.
Apple entered the scheme, west of Ingham, as an offtake partner last year in a bid to offset customer energy use.
“Despite all measures to avoid and reduce impacts, the project has the potential to impact mechanisms including both ground level activities and turbine collision,” the report said.
For the local koala population, the report said there was potential significant residual impact as it does for the red goshawk.
The project would also be adjacent to the Girringun National Park and 4.8km from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the impacts Windlab has detailed in the report underline how the transition to renewable energy would still have a significant environmental cost.
“The project is likely to have unavoidable significant residual impact on four species and therefore offsets to address these impacts will be required,” it said.
Its offset management strategy would have to address the impacts for the Sharman’s rock wallaby, the koala, the greater glider and red goshawk.
Huge areas of vegetation would be impacted and lead to the removal of 662ha of habitat for the rock wallaby and 746ha of habitat for koalas, but it also said important populations of the four impacted species would continue to be present in the area.
“At the broadest scale, significant impact avoidance has been achieved through project design changes, with 56 wind turbines being removed by the southern portion of the project area,” the report said.
“Additional avoidance has been undertaken with localised refinement.”
The company said it would have to secure land as an offset.
But it also outlined how there were opportunities for environmental values with the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Windlab is 75 per cent owned by Forrest’s Squadron Energy and therefore considered a subsidiary yesterday said it was confident it could deliver the Upper Burdekin Wind Farm in a way that supported overall improved outcomes for regional ecology.
“Following more than two years’ in-depth environmental studies and stakeholder consultation, we have delivered a revised project design that preserves more than 98 per cent of native vegetation that exists within the boundary of the cattle property where the project is located, the majority of which is remnant vegetation,” Windlab said in a statement.
“We recognise the value of the region’s ecology, as well as the importance of biodiversity in ensuring a healthy climate. We are committed to delivering robust management plans that will protect and maintain native species populations present across the project area, and have prioritised a demonstrated reduction in weeds and predatory pests that pose a major threat to these species.”
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