Wind farm developer defends consultation efforts
THE government department and company behind a proposed mega wind farm near Maryborough have defended their consultation efforts.
A spokesman for the Department of State Development addressed claims that residents had not been consulted about the green energy project plans.
The concerns came to light in a parliamentary committee report.
"Since the public announcement of the project, Forest Wind Holdings has widely consulted with the community, timber industry, environment groups, regional councils, local businesses, and traditional owners," the spokesman said.
"The wind farm was assessed against State code 23: Wind Farm Development.
"The assessment of the proposal concluded that it complies with the assessment benchmarks of the wind farm code subject to a detailed suite of conditions."
Forest Wind, the company behind the project, responded to resident concerns regarding lack of communication and environmental concerns.
A spokeswoman for Forest Wind said "the Forest Wind team has undertaken a wide range of community and wider stakeholder engagement activities."
She said this included sending introductory letters and brochures to 992 residents and property owners within 5km of the wind farm location.
Community information sessions and online information sessions were held, to work around the COVID-19 crisis.
Direct communication with residents through an inquiry line was also undertaken, she said.
The spokeswoman said Forest Wind had been conducting an ecological assessment over the past three years and this process continues.
"We have currently completed 225 bird utilisation surveys in 25 bird survey locations of which seven are reference sites," she said.
"The studies have been conducted in accordance with state and federal regulatory requirements, using approved best practice methods."
She said no migratory shorebirds were observed within or flying over the project area on any of the bird surveys.
The spokeswoman said Forest Wind took impacts to birds seriously and had developed a preliminary Bird and Bat Management Plan, including temporarily shutting down turbines, potentially using acoustic devices to deter birds and slowing rotor speed.
Both the Department of State Development and Forest Wind promoted the roughly 400 jobs the project would create for the region.