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Robbins Island - Windfarm

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tags: Threatened Species, Environment

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I rise to talk about the extremely concerning development, the high industrialisation of one of Australia's most significant bird wetland areas, certainly Tasmania's most important migratory bird and shore bird area. An enormous windfarm is proposed for Robbins Island, 122 turbines, 270 metres high.

It is more than apparent that we have to do everything to bring down global emissions. Climate heating is happening at a rapid rate, but so too the IPCC and United Nations scientists have called on world leaders to make sure that in the decisions that we take for creating more renewable energy for bringing down emissions we do not at the same time destroy biodiversity, damaging intact ecosystems. As a planet we are also on an equal race to stop biodiversity which is falling off a cliff, planetary-wide and do everything we can. We are in a race against time to restore degraded ecosystems and to protect the functioning ecosystems that we have, as a planet.

This windfarm is in the wrong place. It is on the Government's head that it is in that place. They have absolutely failed, time and again, despite being asked, cajoled and having had strong calls from us and many other people in the conservation and business community to plan for renewable energy infrastructure so that it can be done in a way that puts the conservation of our critically endangered and threatened species, our forest communities and our marine environment first and foremost in the decisions about the most appropriate siting for extremely important windfarms. This is not rocket science. This can be done. The reason it is not being done and has not been done is because an addiction to silence strangles the Government in its decision making, even when it is against its best interest. There is a failure to account for the big decisions that have been taken on behalf of Tasmanians about our future infrastructure, our renewable energy capacity, our ability to properly protect the natural environment, which is everything for us because it is the basis of our intact ecosystems, our clean air and water. Fundamentally it is beautiful in its own right.

The strong advice from the orange bellied parrot group is that this is the wrong place for a wind farm because those 400 kilometre per hour moving turbine blades will slice to pieces those small birds that stop and either rest or take permanent refuge for the season on Robbins Island.

Robbins Island is a beautiful sanctuary for an enormous number of birds but it is also part of the Boullanger Bay passage and has a flourishing marine environment that would be damaged and irreparably changed by the causeway, jetty and road infrastructure that is required for such an enormous industrial takeover of an island. It is right in the geographic centre of the internationally significant bird flightway.

Many groups have put in submissions to the Circular Head Council. That process has now been finalised. About 400 groups and individuals have put in submissions about this wind farm. Birdlife volunteers have been walking Robbins Island for decades and have the best records of the shorebirds that live there. The group is very clear that the effects of the proposed wind farm will have an enormous impact on the island and the surrounding wetlands. Poorly sited wind farms kill birds and this project will join that group.

The developer has failed to prepare a DPEMP that takes account of the evidence of the shore birds and their habitat. It is relying on outdated research that they have conducted themselves. It is flawed. The DPEMP will go through a process with the Circular Head Council but it has to stand up to the EPBC Act. There is no way that the proposal as it stands will do anything other than cause serious damage to critically endangered species that Tasmania and the world must keep with us.