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EPA Board decides on Cattle Hill proposal

28 November 2011

The Environment Protection Authority Board has considered a proposal to construct a wind farm of up to 100 turbines in Tasmania’s Central Highlands.

N.P. Power Pty Ltd has proposed to construct and operate a 240 MW wind farm on the eastern shore of Lake Echo.

The proposal has been subject to an environmental impact assessment by the EPA Board in accordance with the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPC Act).

Acting Chair of the EPA Board Ian Abernethy said the Board has referred the proposal to the Central Highlands Council and agreed on a series of conditions which must be included in any permit issued by the Council.

“In making its decision, the Board acknowledged that the considerations of potential impacts upon the population of an iconic threatened species, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, must be considered alongside the very real social and economic benefits of the proposal,” Mr Abernethy said.

“The usual benefits associated with economic activity of this magnitude are substantial but the value of the proposal’s contribution to a low carbon economy is the major consideration,” Mr Abernethy said.

Mr Abernethy said it is this potential step change in Tasmania’s low emission energy production which persuaded the EPA Board to seek to manage and mitigate the impact of the proposal on the Wedge-Tailed Eagle population rather than to avoid that impact entirely.

“The Board has therefore required conditions be imposed which ensure that wind farm eagle mortality will be reliably and comprehensively monitored and that the Director is able to reduce the risks to eagles in the event that mortalities are excessive,” Mr Abernethy said.

This includes provision for turbine shutdowns in response to mortality thresholds. The EPA will also engage with the proponents to ensure that the best possible use is made of their eagle research and monitoring investments through contribution to an eagle population productivity monitoring program.

N.P. Power Pty Ltd referred the proposal to the Australian Government for consideration.

The Australian Government has determined that the proposal is a controlled action under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

As such, it requires assessment and approval by the (Commonwealth) Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities before it can proceed.

The proposal has been assessed by Tasmania under the bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Tasmania.

This means that the Commonwealth’s assessment will be based on the information provided by the now-completed Tasmanian assessment.

The Central Highlands Council must also now consider the proposal and include the conditions specified by the EPA Board if a permit is issued to allow the wind farm to go ahead.

More information about the proposed development can be found on the EPA website under Completed Assessments