Big finds made at wind farm

Tablelands Advertiser - - NEWS - Bron­wyn Wheatcroft

THE Mount Emer­ald Wind Farm is help­ing to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, plants and cul­tural her­itage pre­sent on the 2400 hectare site.

Since the project started, there have been a num­ber of finds on the prop­erty in­clud­ing indige­nous arte­facts, en­dan­gered plants and un­ex­ploded or­dance (UXO).

Mount Emer­ald Wind Farm com­mu­nity en­gage­ment fa­cil­i­ta­tor Kim Forde said that dur­ing WWII a sec­tion of the wind farm, near Kip­pen Drive, was used as a mil­i­tary bomb­ing range.

For nearly a year Milsearch teams have been work­ing through the area to iden­tify and re­move un­ex­ploded UXO.

Milsearch is an or­gan­i­sa­tion with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in safely re­mov­ing and det­o­nat­ing UXOs.

Since their search has started about eight pieces of UXO have been found and det­o­nated by the De­part­ment of De­fence.

There have also been about 400 frag­mented pieces of old mor­tars that were dis­cov­ered and be­lieved to have been det­o­nated back when the site was used as a bomb range.

Mrs Forde said the Cul­tural Her­itage Team from Mbar­bar­rum indige­nous com­mu­nity, who are the tra­di­tional own­ers of the land, are pro­tect­ing the his­tor­i­cal arte­facts found on the site.

“They are help­ing to iden­tify any­thing of indige­nous cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance,” she said.

“What they are look­ing for are spe­cial sites, rock paint­ings and ev­i­dence of spear mak­ing or camps.

“What they have found so far are frag­ments of spear heads.

“All of those have been flagged, GPS lo­cated, bagged and safely re­moved from the site to pro­tect the items while con­struc­tion is oc­cur­ring.”

She said once con­struc­tion is fin­ished Mbar­bar­rum elders will de­cide whether the items will be re­turned to the site or if they will be placed in a mu­seum.

The last group that goes through the area be­fore work­ers dis­turb it is called the 4 El­e­ments. Their team is headed by 4 El­e­ments prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist Mel­lissa Jess and a team of botanists and bi­ol­o­gists who iden­tify and transplant if nec­es­sary any rare plants.

They are also re­spon­si­ble for trap­ping, track­ing and re­lo­cat­ing quolls who may be in the path of con­struc­tion teams.

“We pre­dicted that there were 50 quolls liv­ing on the site and we have found 95,” Ms Forde said.

“4 El­e­ments have also been col­lect­ing seeds and plants and look­ing af­ter them on an on­site nurs­ery that these plants will be used to reveg­e­tate sites and road ways once each tower site is com­plete.”

The Mount Emer­ald Wind Farm project is ex­pected to be com­pleted by Oc­to­ber 2018 which will be the same time that the com­mu­nity ben­e­fit fund will start.

Pic­ture: Sup­plied

Pic­tured is an un­ex­ploded mor­tar that was found on the Mount Emer­ald Wind Farm site.

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