FARM BID TO SAVE EA­GLES

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES KITTO

THE Cat­tle Hill Wind Farm tak­ing shape in the Cen­tral High­lands will in­tro­duce in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy to help re­duce the num­ber of wed­getailed ea­gle deaths at­trib­uted to Tas­ma­nian in­fra­struc­ture.

Cat­tle Hill Wind Farm pro­po­nent Gold­wind Aus­tralia yes­ter­day an­nounced it will in­stall an aerial mon­i­tor­ing and de­tec­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tem at the $300 mil­lion project site in a bid to mit­i­gate the im­pact on the en­dan­gered wedge-tailed ea­gle pop­u­la­tion.

The tower-mounted tech­nol­ogy by Iden­tiF­light is de­signed to de­tect and pho­to­graph fly­ing ob­jects, and use al­go­rithms to iden­tify them as ea­gles.

If an ea­gle’s speed and flight path in­di­cates a risk of col­li­sion with a tur­bine, the tur­bine will be shut down.

Gold­wind manag­ing di­rec­tor John Titchen said the inno- va­tive tech­nol­ogy, which would see 16 units de­ployed across the site’s 48 tur­bines, was a first of its kind in Aus­tralia.

Birdlife Tas­ma­nia’s Dr Eric Woehler said any pro­posal to pro­tect the life of an en­dan­gered species was wel­comed but the tech­nol­ogy’s only mea­sure of suc­cess would be if no ea­gles were killed.

“Any­thing that can re­duce the risk of col­li­sion has to be wel­comed be­cause we’re see­ing in­creas­ing in­ci­dents of wind tur­bines in Tas­ma­nia killing birds and we don’t want the gen­er­a­tion of clean, green en­ergy come at the cost of wip­ing out an en­dan­gered species,” he said.

“The bench­mark of suc­cess with this project is the ab­sence of ea­gles killed over the life­time of the wind farm. Let’s look at it in year’s time to see if there’s been no ea­gles killed.”

The Tas­ma­nian wed­getailed ea­gle pop­u­la­tion is de­clin­ing and is made up of fewer than 1000 adult birds.

Mr Woehler’s con­cerns come af­ter TasNet­works re­leased an an­nual re­port in Au­gust re­veal­ing 29 wedge-tailed ea­gles were found dead af­ter col­lid­ing with elec­tri­cal net­work in­fra­struc­ture — more than dou­ble the wedge-tailed ea­gle deaths recorded last year.

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