Wind farm approved on questionable data

Updated November 2 2012 - 7:48am, first published February 13 2012 - 12:13pm

I BELIEVE it has now been proved that the Chepstowe wind farm planning permit was only approved because the information provided to the Minister of Planning about the Chepstowe brolga population was a misrepresentation of facts.The Pyrenees Shire as responsible authority for the project has recently been asked by over 50 of its ratepayers to cancel the permit under the Planning and Environment Act.Greens MLC, Greg Barber, along with Breaze and FOE was given key information and asked to help fight the wind farm prior to the hearing, but these so-called environmentalists were happy for a wind farm to be built at any cost to the local environment or threatened species, and did not object to the proponent omitting information which would have prevented the permit from being approved. A wind farm can be built somewhere outside of environmentally sensitive areas, but species are much more difficult to relocate, as there is really nowhere else for them to go.Now it has been proved, with the assistance of the Victorian Ombudsman, that the proponent has omitted key brolga nest site data, has ignored two flocking sites within three kilometres of the proposed wind farm, has not followed the agreed method of mapping home ranges and has not followed the DSE guidelines for buffering brolga habitat from wind farms. Both the Pyrenees Shire and DSE management were involved in this project, and for reasons yet unknown, made no attempt at the hearing to make the minister aware of the omitted data.After the minister approved the project, DSE was asked why key DSE data was not used. The data then mysteriously disappeared off the DSE database. The shire and DSE denied any complicity, but internal documentation obtained shows both were well aware of the data omission. Documentation shows some DSE staff attempted to have data included, but failed. After more questioning and more evidence was provided, coincidently three key DSE managers have been replaced in the last few months. The new DSE director has determined data did disappear and last week committed to have it returned to the database.I have asked Greg Barber to recognise that the permit for Chepstowe should now be cancelled, and asked he stand up for truth, honesty, integrity and the protection of the threatened brolga. HAMISH CUMMINGDarlington

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