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Chalumbin Wind Farm Development

The Chalumbin wind farm is a major development project which is proposed on the boarder of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, close to Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands.

The proponent of the Chalumbin wind farm is Epuron, which was recently acquired by Korea Zinc. The proposal consists of 94 wind turbine generators across two properties Glen Gordon and Wooroona station. 

The Issue

The Chalumbin Wind farm is proposed in a heavily vegetated landscape, containing threatened species and in close proximity to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. 

The project will set a precedent for the kind of renewable energy development in Queensland that the community can expect to see with the transition away from the fossil fuel industry.

Currently the Queensland Renewable Energy Zones (QREZ) have not been mapped to understand the high value biodiversity and renewable energy resources (wind and solar). This mapping is essential for knowing where renewable energy projects should be located, ensuring that we are not clearing essential habitat and losing biodiversity as a result. 

Until the planning and mapping QREZ’s is complete, we can not be confident that the Chalumbin wind farm is not resulting in the loss of essential habitats and biodiversity.

No amount of minimising, offsetting, rehabilitation, will account for poorly placed, and poorly planned development. 

    We know that the rapid rollout of renewable energy is essential to secure a safe climate future. No one knows that better than the stewards of the reef and rainforest. However we also know that we cannot afford to prepetuate the extinction crisis and biodiveristy loss through renewable energy development. 

    This is our opportunity to get it righ early! – Lucy, Director, CAFNEC

    CAFNEC acknowledge the Jirrbal Peoples as the first peoples of the land of the proposed site of the Chalumbin wind farm. We acknowledge that soveriegnty was never ceded and pay respects to elders.

    The Solution

    The Guidelines for the content of a draft public environment report provided by the federal environment department require that the proponent describe any feasible alternatives. We argue that until the planning for the QREZ’s is complete, it is not possible to properly consider or describe the feasible alternatives.

    Chalumbin wind farm is demonstrably uncoordinated development that will likely have significant impact on a broad diversity of Matters of National Environmental Significance. There are likely many feasible alternatives to this wind farm, however it is unlikely that a developer is likely to understand them without the QREZ planning complete.

    The Solution: Chalumbin assessments process is paused until planning and mapping of QREZs is complete, and there is a clear coordination of where development of renewable energy should happen that protects biodiversity and secures emissions reduction.

     

    Listen to the Background Briefing Story (2021)

    What Is At Risk?

    Below are the Matters of Environmental Significance identified as potentially being significantly impacted by the proposed action. More than 20 different threatened species:

     

    1. Magnificent Brood Frog (Pseudophryne covacevichae) – vulnerable;
    2. Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) – vulnerable; 
    3. Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) – vulnerable;
    4. Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) – vulnerable;
    5. White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) – migratory, vulnerable, marine; 
    6. Masked owl (northern) (Tyto novaehollandiae kimberli) – vulnerable;
    7. Mountain Mist Frog (Litoria nyakalensis) – critically endangered;
    8. Lace-eyed Tree Frog (Litoria dayi ) – vulnerable;
    9. Southern cassowary southern population (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) – endangered;
    10. Spotted tail quoll (North Queensland subspecies) (Dasyurus maculatus gracilis) – endangered;
    11. Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) – endangered;
    12. Yellow-bellied Glider (Wet Tropics) (Petaurus australis Wet Tropics subspecies) – endangered;
    13. Spectacled Flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus) – endangered;
    14. Ghost bat (Macroderma gigas) – vulnerable;
    15. Aponogeton bullosus – endangered;
    16. Prostanthera clotteniana – critically endangered; 
    17. Homoranthus porteri – vulnerable; 
    18. Triplarina nitchaga – vulnerable; PER Guidelines – Chalumbin Wind Farm 
    19. Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) Threatened Ecological Community– critically endangered.
    20. Listed Migratory species Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus)
    21. Black-faced monarch (Monarcha melanopsis
    22. Latham’s snipe (Gallinago hardwickii) 
    23. Wet Tropics of Queensland values (d) National Heritage Place • Wet Tropics of Queensland values

    THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS

    The Chalumbin wind farm will be assessed at a state and federal level as it impacts matters of national environmental significance. Which means the there are some important moments for the community to share its concerns.

    The State Assessment and Referral Agency has approved the development application. Despite this, the proposal must be assessed under Federal Environment laws (EPBC Act) before it can progress. This will be an important moment for us to look at the Public Environment Report prepare by Epuron, and better understand what is at risk. 

    The release of the Public Environment Report will trigger a 10 day period for public comment. This is a short, but important time for the public to have input to the assessment by the federal environment department and minister. CAFNEC will be preparing a response and encouraging and assisting the public in responding too. 

    Regardless of what is contained in the Public Environment Report, CAFNEC can not support the Chalumbin wind farm proposal until there has been planning and mapping of Queensland Energy Zones, and there is a clear and coordinated plan for large scale renewable energy development in Queensland. Until then, we will not fully understand the impacts of losing the remnant forest and threatened species habitat on site.

    When the public Environment Report is released, we want to make sure every one is notified and has the opportunity to respond before the public comment period closes. Sign up to our email list to stay updated.

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     State Assessment

    On Thursday the 30th of June the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) granted the development application for the Chalumbin Wind Farm Project. As the project is only code assesable (because of the outdated Code 23) there was not community consultation required on this process.

    To learn more about the state assessment follow the link below and search ‘Chalumbin’.

     

    Community Messages on Chalumbin

    The videos above have been produced by community members and traditional owners who are raising concerns regarding the development. Despite Epuron continuing to progress engagement with Wabubadda Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, we are still seeing Jirrbal Elders and Traditional Custodians raising concerns in public forums.

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