Habitual Habitat Destruction: Wind Industry Wiping Out Vast Tracts of Virgin Rainforest

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Once upon a time, environmentalists were known as ‘tree huggers’, these days the new ‘green’ cult can’t destroy them fast enough.

In the Scottish Highlands, so far, they’ve wiped out over 14 million trees, spread over more than 17,000 acres to clear the way for thousands of these industrial monstrosities; and, no, they don’t replant them – any sizeable tree is an impediment to ‘productivity’, as it interferes with airflow and reduces wind speeds, and therefore wind power output. So, once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

Germany’s Black Forest has been overrun, with chainsaws, bulldozers and blazing torches paving the way for our so-called ‘green’ energy transition.

And hundreds of ancient oaks in its thousand-year-old Fairytale Forest, the Reinhardswald, are under threat of being felled and shredded, for the same reason.

In the Amazon basin, the wind industry is merrily wiping out virgin rainforest, in order to strip the ‘lungs of the Earth’ of the millions of tonnes of balsa wood it needs to build hundreds of thousands of 50-80m turbine blades each year. You just know it makes good environmental sense, right?

Which brings us to northern Queensland’s dryland tropical forests, which like their northern hemisphere counterparts, are all for the chop, if Queensland’s wind and solar-obsessed government has its way.

Nick Cater provides the outrageous details below – with a few images provided by STT’s FNQ operatives, taken at Kaban, where the wind industry’s grand rainforest wipeout has already begun.

Is Chalumbin set to be the new Franklin Dam?
The Australian
Nick Cater
24 July 2023

There are only 83,000 hectares of wet sclerophyll forest left in North Queensland. Ark Energy is just a ministerial tick away from ripping into a thousand to construct an industrial wind turbine development.

Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Korea Zinc, will learn in September if Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is prepared to disturb the tranquillity of the Chalumbin forest near Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands to make way for 86 mega-wind turbines.

Chalumbin is the new Franklin, a pivotal moment in political and environmental history that will shape the Australian landscape for decades. This time, however, there is hardly a tree-hugger in sight. There’s not been a squeak from the Australian Conservation Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth or any of the usual suspects.

In the most crucial environmental battle of our times, the Greens are deeply conflicted. So too are the teal independents whose campaigns were funded by individuals and companies deeply invested in the renewable sector. Nothing they say on the subject is to be trusted.

Plibersek finds herself wedged. Knocking back Chalumbin will not help Labor ward off the challenge from the Greens in inner-city seats including her own. Energy Minister Chris Bowen, who has set the goal of erecting a 9MW wind turbine every 18 hours until 2030, will be curling his lips. It will be a test of Plibersek’s ability to make a dispassionate assessment.

If Plibersek stops the Chalumbin project, it will send a message that the government is not prepared to sacrifice the greater glider to save the polar bear. It will be a long overdue acknowledgment that the rapacious, land-hungry demands of the renewable energy sector must be balanced against the protection of biodiversity and the spiritual connection to the land of Aboriginal people. If she doesn’t, then anything goes. If this land isn’t sacred, what is?

Ravenshoe is no stranger to ugly environmental battles. In 1987, Bob Hawke’s environment minister, Graham Richardson, was punched and jostled by loggers angry that their industry was closing. Then-Queensland premier Joh Bjelke Petersen vehemently opposed Hawke’s plan to seek World Heritage listing. Bob Katter, then a minister in the Petersen government, said Cairns should seek sister-city status with Berlin because the city was “about to be imprisoned by a wall of rainforest from which they would never be able to escape nor visit”.

Chalumbin will complete the encirclement of the Ravenshoe with steel, concrete and fibreglass. It will destroy scores of acres of the forests Richardson wanted to save. The newly constructed Kaban turbine development to the town’s north offers a foretaste of the destruction. The 28 wind turbines are three times higher than the Story Bridge. They sit in rock cuttings up to 15 metres deep blasted into the hillside. Giant piles of trees lie in heaps on the side of the road.

The impact on the Chalumbin forest is far more significant. It is adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Looking out at Chalumbin from a neighbouring hilltop, as I did last week in the company of traditional owners, it is impossible to tell where the border lies. The thick tropical forest continues as far as the eye can see and the ridges, on which 86 turbines will be constructed, are slap-bang in the middle.

The forest is home to vulnerable native species, including the Greater Glider and the Magnificent Brood Frog. It is the hunting ground for the Red Goshawk, one of Australia’s rarest raptors. Their flight paths and unfortunate habit of flying towards hills to gain greater uplift make them peculiarly vulnerable to turbine strikes.

Tim Nevard, an adjunct professor at the Cairns Institute at James Cook University, describes the application to build turbines on the site as ludicrous. “Once you start destroying that sort of habitat, it’s gone and you can’t replace it, no matter how you feel,” he said. “Biodiversity can’t be destroyed in order to stop climate change.”

An Indigenous land use agreement with the Wabubadda Aboriginal Corporation, the registered Native Title Body Corporate, highlights the lack of accountable representation for Aboriginal elders.

The Chalumbin forest is the land of the Jirrbal people, who have inhabited the rainforest and coastal regions of far north Queensland for thousands of years. They have a strong spiritual connection to the land, which is reflected in their Dreamtime stories, creation myths and rituals that are passed down through generations.

Georgina Weiden, a Jirrbal woman, broke down in tears when she spoke about Chalumbin last week. “One of my grandmothers (was) born at the bottom of the gorge,” she said. “Those waterways, they were for initiation and birthing. That’s where life comes from for us.”

Construction on such a steep and inaccessible site is a major operation. It requires constructing more than 100km of new roads five to seven metres wide, carved through pristine native forests.

It requires dynamite and rock drilling to take the side off hills to construct roads with a shallow gradient so that 86 metre-long turbine blades can be double-hauled up the hillside by two trucks.

If Chalumbin was going to produce enough electricity to produce 320,000 homes, as the company’s glossy brochure claims, we could perceive a little method in what looks like an act of utter madness. That would comfortably take care of every occupied dwelling north of Mackay, avoiding the need to build more of these atrocities. There would be no need to proceed with the Upper Burdekin turbine development that threatens hundreds of acres of koala habit. The environmentally sensitive Lotus Creek development could be called off. Kaban and the Mount Emerald turbine development near Atherton could be pulled down and the landscape rehabilitated.

We know, however, that these figures are based on the utterly ridiculous assumption that the generators will operate at full capacity, 24 hours a day and then some. Ditto the claim that the Chalumbin development will avoid 17 million tonnes of carbon emissions over the plant’s 30-year existence. A 1200ha wet sclerophyll forest stores between two and 20 times that amount of carbon and continues to absorb more yearly.

What happens after 30 years is anybody’s guess. But there’s a clue in Kidner’s Quarry, some 15km to the north. Several dozen worn-out 20-metre turbine blades removed from the 23-year-old Windy Hill Wind Farm have been dumped in an open grave. It is unclear how long they’ve been sitting there or whether there are any plans to move them elsewhere. It’s just another of the dirty secrets in the clean-energy game.

Nick Cater is senior fellow at the Menzies Research Centre.
The Australian

New enviro-ethics: wreck a pristine forest, milk the subsidies, dump, cut and run.