All over North Queensland, vast areas of tropical and sub-tropical vegetation are being clear-felled to make way for giant industrial-scale green energy projects.
In my own electorate at Mirani, Andrew Forrest’s Squadron Energy is building a $3 billion wind farm at Clarke Creek, 120km north of Rocky.
The project will boast 195 wind turbines, spread over 76,300 hectares of land, parts of which lie within a mapped riparian/terrestrial ecological corridor.
Each rotor has three blades up to 240 feet in length and a maximum tip height of 660 feet.
According to the project’s Ecological Assessment Report (EAR), the site is home to 15 species of microbats and 8 raptor species, including the endangered Grey Falcon.
Other ‘endangered’ species at the site include the Cycad plant, Squatter Pigeon and White-throated Needletail.
Today there are only a handful of cycads left worldwide, with the plant facing imminent extinction due to its slow growth and infrequent reproduction.
Also identified were 17 species of mammal, including Greater Gliders and Koalas, both listed as ‘vulnerable’ just this year.
Up to 1,425 ha of mapped koala habitat will be removed to make way for the project, together with 15.3 hectares of Regulated Vegetation and 44.7 hectares of ‘threatened’ Semi-Evergreen Vine Thicket.
Clarke Creek is just one of many wind and solar projects proposed, or under construction, in Central/North Queensland.
Some are in forests that “predate white settlement”, while others are sprawled along corridors bordering World Heritage Areas.
At Mt Emerald, the Kaban wind farm project area is 1,300 hectares, including 129 hectares of threatened species habitat.
The area is home to Greater Gliders, Koalas and magnificent broodfrogs.
Then there’s the Chalumbin Wind Farm, which has a land footprint almost 10 times the size of Kaban.
It traverses the western boundary of World Heritage-protected rainforests, with over 1,100 hectares of vegetation to be cleared for the project.
Then there’s the gigantic wind farm planned for the Upper Burdekin. According to its proposal, this project stretches across 37 kilometres of land.
Today there are 48, large-scale renewable energy projects, either completed, commenced, or planned for Queensland.
Almost 90 percent of them are in North Queensland.
If all current proposals are approved, around 13,332 hectares of remnant vegetation will be cleared state-wide.
Some of the largest of them will be built in pristine areas of the Great Dividing Range.
Areas that conservationists once regarded as sacred.
That was then.
Now, they seem happy to stand by as huge swathes of the state’s precious rainforests and native habitats are bulldozed to oblivion.