The Victorian Government is trying to reduce Brolga buffers from 3.2km down to 1km to allow turbines inside the remaining 200 breeding pairs home ranges. GPS tracking data and post completion reports show the buffer needs to be increased to 5km, GPS records have been suppressed and the reports supporting a 5km buffer are being ignored.
In the past 8 years Southern Brolga have been displaced from more than 50 nesting sites and more than 5 flocking sites by poorly placed wind turbines, and for a breeding population of around 200 pairs, this is an ecological disaster. Resulting in at least 100 chicks not being fledged over that period. In 2021, The Southern Brolga status has been raised from Vulnerable to Endangered. Existing buffers have been proven to be too small and must be made larger, not smaller.
GPS tracking of Brolga in Victoria and cranes in USA and Canada show cranes breeding home ranges are a minimum of 5km radius from their nesting wetlands and turbines displace 95% of them from their home ranges by 5km. No Brolga have successfully nested within 5km of turbines. There had been claims that of the 50 nest sites abandoned, two had fledged a chick in the past 10 years, but this fledging claim was disproved.
The Victorian Government is also trying to remove the requirement for Site Assessment for Brolga prior to permit applications and they want to remove, monitoring and mitigation requirements for Brolga after construction ..
The Victorian Government also want to remove protection for saline wetlands as Brolga habitat, claiming Brolga don't use them, Even though DELWP's own records show Brolga breeding, flocking and feeding in saline wetlands right across Victoria. , The Brolga is the only crane in the world with a salt excretion gland that enables them to drink salt water, so of course they use saline wetlands.. If the Victorian Government refuses to provide the 5km minimum buffer voluntarily, then we will have to force them to do so in the courts.
Australia has plenty of room and open spaces for renewable projects, they do not have to be jammed into Endangered species habitats, especially when the scientific facts and GPS monitoring shows that a 5km minimum buffer between Brolga home ranges and turbines is required.
There are now only around 600 Brolga left in Victoria and SE South Australia and these are geographically (and genetically) isolated from the Brolga in Northern Australia. One of the biggest threats to these beautiful birds is wind farms being built in their habitat.
The average person might assume that Brolga and humans would be given adequate buffers (distance) from turbines – after all, that would be reasonable given that these projects are being built with the help of public money in the name of the environment. But that person, sadly, would be wrong. Brolgas are protected and listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Vic), and, under DELWP guidelines, their nesting and flocking sites are supposed to be buffered from turbines by 3.2 and 5km respectively, but such distances are not applied in practice. Many other important bird species would also receive protection if Brolgas were adequately buffered.
Time and time again during planning processes for various wind farms over several decades we have seen information and modelling presented by companies and their consultants that did not reflect the true impact on Brolgas, humans or their habitats – yet the government just seems to accept it.
The average person might also assume that if there were any problems after the wind farm was built, companies would be held to account against “stringent” planning permit conditions. But again, they’d be wrong. Neither State Government nor Local Councils have made wind farm companies adhere to their permit conditions for noise, bird mortality, Brolga mitigation etc. Nor has there been a cumulative impact study for Brolgas or humans, nor have learnings from earlier wind farms been used to modify layouts for subsequent wind farms, with the “rules” seemingly becoming slacker with every passing year.
As a result, many people have been driven from their homes by the noise, Brolgas have been displaced from their habitats with no successful nesting or flocking, and many, many raptors and other birds have been killed.
Please help us hold governments and companies to account by donating now. Thank you!
What the donations will be used for:
Many citizens around Australia are battling government planning departments, councils and wind farm companies in order to stop wind farms being built without adequate buffers for humans and Brolgas. They are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money into court cases that aim to hold these organisations to account, all because the planning system has failed both them and the environment. Companies and governments know that the extraordinary cost individual people have to bear often prevents them from making a stand and asking the courts for justice.
This GoFundMe campaign is an opportunity for you to contribute to such legal battles in Victoria and to help people and communities who already have cases underway to prevent the destruction of human and Brolga habitats from inappropriately sited wind farms. Our target is to raise $600,000 in donations, and use it as a rotating fighting fund.
The first fight this GoFundMe campaign was going to contribute to, is the upcoming legal action proposed against the consultants who enabled the Dundonnell wind farm to gain a permit. However insufficient funds were raised in time and the wind farm is now built, causing further displacement of nesting sites and flocking sites. This court case will still happen in the future as it alleges, and will endeavor to prove, the consultants’ actions were misleading and deceptive. The case will also endeavor to prove that if the correct information was used in the first place the project would not have gained approval, or would have required three times the mitigation shown in the permit.
However a more urgent fight is to stop the government from reducing the current buffers and force them to increase it to the 5km minimum that science shows is necessary to stop further demise of the southern Brolga population.
Wind farm proposals at Mt Fyans, Hexham and Willatook, if these companies choose to progress their permit applications, will also be challenged and this fund raising will assist those cases if they eventuate.
The Brolga Preservation Foundation (BPF) has been set up to receive the donations from the GoFundMe campaign, and to hold funds in excess of immediate requirements. When costs are awarded to the litigants after a win in court, any funds provided by the GoFundMe page or the BPF will be returned to the BPF. These funds will be managed by the BPF Directors, and at their discretion can be directed towards similar court cases where the QC acting for the prosecuting litigants considers the legal arguments strong and that is has a high chance of being successful.. The idea is that it will be a rotating fighting fund where donated money is returned to the fund if the case is awarded costs, and such returned costs would be allocated to fund future similar cases. The intention is to assist people with the cost of fighting cases that are already underway, but not to initiate proceedings or to fund the case outright.
The donations collected through this page will also go towards assisting the funding of some upcoming cases in relation to enforcing planning permit conditions of other wind farms operating in the western district of Victoria. The wind farms in question are adversely affecting Brolgas’ ability to utilise their habitat, and non-compliance of the permit noise conditions are adversely affecting people living close to the wind farms.
Parties are investigating the possibility of a Class Action against environmental and noise consultants used by wind farm companies. If such a case is initiated and a QC has considered the legal arguments are strong and that is has a high chance of being successful. then helping to fund the Class Action could be a BPF priority.
If in future the Government, Shire Councils and the wind industry all start to do the right thing by the Brolga and people, and no further court cases are deemed likely to occur, the Foundation can then use any remaining money to undertake other preservation work such as habitat improvement and to fund projects to increase the breeding success of Brolgas.
Thank you for your donations. If you have further questions please contact Hamish Cumming, Secretary, Brolga Preservation Foundation Limited, ACN 633 625 055.