Epuron redesigns Lotus Creek project
Ecological considerations inform new design
Following advice from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) that the initial design for the proposed Lotus Creek Wind Farm was not acceptable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), Epuron has spent the past six months commissioning further site investigations and redesigning the project.
Based on the additional and cumulative results from ecological studies and advice from independent ecology consultants, Epuron has reduced the proposed footprint of the project site by more than 40%, from 620 hectares to 350 hectares, and reduced the number of proposed turbines by almost a third, from 81 turbines to 55 turbines. The location of each turbine has been individually assessed, to ensure siting in areas of low tree density and as close to existing roads and access tracks as possible to minimise clearing.
DAWE’s decision identified potential impacts to the Greater Glider and local koala population as being of primary concern, with both species requiring amplified conservation efforts following habitat loss and mortality from widespread bushfires. The new project design completely avoids impacts to Greater Glider habitat and the Clarke-Connors bioregion, and minimises loss of koala feed trees and impact to the local koala population. Epuron has also committed to a raft of measures to improve conservation efforts in the project area including monitoring local wildlife, sharing research data, and supporting host landowners to improve koala habitat, control predators and maintain best practice fire management.
As a result of the design revision and commitments Epuron proposes that the project can achieve a net positive outcome for biodiversity in the project area, including an increase in the size and quality of koala habitat and a reduction in bushfire risk. Epuron will refer the revised design to DAWE for consideration under the EPBC Act in December 2020.