The environment-versus-climate battle dividing regional Australia

The environment-versus-climate battle dividing regional Australia

From The Conversation (23/10/23), an article about how the Federal Government’s Nature Positive Plan may help resolve conflicts between renewable energy and the natural environment…


How to beat ‘rollout rage’: the environment-versus-climate battle dividing regional Australia

In August, Victoria’s Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny made a decision that could set a difficult precedent for Australia’s effort to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

In considering the environmental effects of the proposed $1 billion Willatook wind farm 20km north of Port Fairy in southwest Victoria, the minister ruled that the developers, Wind Prospect, had to build wider buffers around the wind turbines and observe a five-month ban on work at the site over each of the two years of construction.

Her reason? To protect the wetlands and breeding season of the brolga, a native crane and a threatened species, and the habitat of the critically endangered southern bent-wing bat.

The decision shocked many clean energy developers. Wind Prospect’s managing director Ben Purcell said the conditions imposed by the minister would reduce the planned number of 59 turbines by two-thirds and make the project “totally unworkable”.

Kilkenny acknowledged that her assessment might reduce the project’s energy output. However, she said “while the transition to renewable energy generation is an important policy and legislative priority for Victoria”, so was “protection of declining biodiversity values”.

The military uses the term “blue on blue” for casualties from friendly fire. In the environmental arena we now risk “green on green” losses, and agonising dilemmas as governments try to reconcile their responses to the world’s two biggest environmental problems: climate change and biodiversity loss.

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