Environment Opinion

Looming wind farm isn't as green as it appears

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Large-scale land clearing is destroying rainforests and wildlife habitat to make way for the wind farm project (Screenshot via YouTube)

A massive wind farm development in north Queensland comes with a devastating price to the environment, writes Duncan Storrar.

THREE YEARS AGO, I won a payout from the Government and nuns for my care as a kid. With that, I bought a place near Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands.

The forest is my mental health. I live in paradise — a refuge from the global warming that’s coming. I moved here because I’ve been a greenie ever since I was eight, getting in trouble for throwing out Mum’s aerosols because they destroy the ozone. Ever since I watched the life cycle of a gum moth – something all kids did in the '70s – I have always pushed for green energy. But today I found myself at a meeting to stop a wind farm, something I thought I would never do.

I moved here because it’s a very special place, right on the border of tropical savanna. Eucalyptus forests and remnant Pangea period rainforests make this place a serious bio-bank, especially for frogs and toads (15 years ago, we thought we would lose all the world frogs).

My plan is to reforest my place with food trees for wildlife. With much old-growth vegetation on my property already, I get very special birds and marsupials, everything from Cairns birdwing butterflies to Herbert River ringtail possums. When friends come to visit me from down south, I take them on night walks to look for tree kangaroos.

As I said, the forest is my healing and it feeds my mental health. But I have found out all this is at threat (these are forests we thought we saved 30 years stopping the Tully-Millstream hydro dams). A Korean zinc processing company is putting in just under 100 wind turbines, each one the height of Eureka Tower in Melbourne.

I would like to stress we are not against green energy wind farms and solar energy. It's not a case of NIMBYism — it's as we say: great idea, just the wrong place.

Greenwashing and big business

As locals, the first thing we ask is: why here? It's not windy. It’s an important question and one on which we can only speculate. Korea Zinc is committed to green zinc but you can't really make zinc production green. What you can do is offset. It doesn’t matter if your windmills make the power claimed. It also doesn’t matter if you destroy what little forest of these types we have on this planet. As long as you can offset, you can call something “green”.

This is how I find myself an environmentalist, pro-wind farm, pro-alternative lifestyle person who believes in ending eternal growth but fighting to stop a wind farm.

Now, as people who have read my other articles know, I usually write about poverty. I left school at 13, so I'm not good with words but I’m also passionate about the environment and have found myself being an activist as always by mistake. A photo taken in the last few weeks can explain to my activist allies why this must be stopped — a pic says more than I ever can with my limited skills.

(Image courtesy of Steven Nowakowski)

These are baby cassowaries. How can this be called green energy?

I beg people who love nature or have ever been to Daintree Cairns and taken day trips to Millaa Millaa Falls, this development in no way can be called green if makes animals like the magnificent brood frog closer to extinction.

Please visit our Facebook page as we need allies. Once anybody sees what is at risk with their own eyes, they will understand why it needs to be saved.

Duncan Storrar is an anti-poverty advocate and has started an advocacy service for children in care and their families.

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