Rainforest trees 200 years old have been cleared to make way for a wind farm transmission line in Tasmania’s Tarkine, prompting claims of green “hypocrisy”.
Myrtle and sassafras trees were among those felled along a 10.5km corridor widened for transmission lines associated with the $280 million, 112 megawatt wind farm at Granville Harbour, in Tasmania’s remote northwest.
Special species timber advocate Andrew Denman, who discovered the felled trees, said it raised concerns about environmental impacts, wastage of high-value timber and wind power’s “green” credentials.
He estimated that some of the felled trees, highly valued in specialty timber production, were 200 years old, given they typically grow at 0.3cm a year and were 60cm in diameter.
With more wind farms planned for Tasmania, including another in the northwest requiring a 170km transmission line, he believed any further clearing, if it must occur, should be co-ordinated to ensure timber was not wasted. “With much of the special timbers in short supply … there could have been a more co-ordinated effort in utilising it to make sure that timber was going to a sawmiller in a timely manner so it could be processed and not wasted,” said Mr Denman, a boatbuilder.
While not critical of the wind farm proponent, whom he did not doubt had complied with regulatory requirements, he understood clearing for electricity infrastructure was exempt from the Forest Practices Code, which seeks to mitigate impacts on keys species.
He believed it was hypocritical of the Greens to oppose “sustainable” harvesting of rainforest timbers while backing the Granville Harbour wind farm and, by implication, associated logging of such trees. “An old-growth tree is an old-growth tree,” Mr Denman said. “Why is it acceptable to cut it down for a transmission line but not acceptable to cut it down sustainably and regenerate that area and put it to good use?”