Wind farm brolga claims

A wind farm opponent says brolga data went missing during the approval process for Colac district wind turbines.

A wind farm opponent says brolga data went missing during the approval process for Colac district wind turbines.

MISSING data about brolgas nesting and flocking in the Colac district could have stopped a wind farm development, a campaigner has alleged.

Anti-wind-farm campaigner Hamish Cumming of Darlington has alleged 300 pieces of data about brolgas at Mount Gellibrand disappeared before the approval of a 63-turbine wind farm at the site north-east of Colac.

Police have referred Mr Cumming’s allegation to the Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Unit, but IBAC has declined to confirm if it will investigate the claim.

Mr Cumming has alleged vital information was unavailable to officers from the then Department of Sustainability and Environment assessing permit applications for wind farms at Mount Gellibrand and at Chepstowe, west of Ballarat.

“The data that was removed would have prevented the wind farm being approved,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to some DSE people and I’ve also got freedom of information documents, and I have looked on the atlases that DSE control.

“I’ve got data from 2007 and then later in 2010, and there’s 300 pieces of data around Mount Gellibrand that is missing, and that just happens to be where the wind farm is,” Mr Cumming alleged.

Warrnambool Criminal Investigation Unit’s Detective Wayne Ryan wrote to Mr Cumming to tell him he had referred documentation about the allegation to Victoria’s anti-corruption body.

“As such I have packaged all of the documentation and email correspondence that you have provided me and forwarded it to Independent Broad Based Anti Corruption Unit for their information and consideration…” Det Ryan’s letter said.

Acciona Energy bought the permit for the Mount Gellibrand wind farm in 2008, but is yet to build any turbines.

An Acciona spokeswoman said the company “was not aware of what the basis is for Hamish Cumming’s allegations”.

“Acciona has not been contacted by the Victorian Police, nor IBAC regarding Mr Cumming’s allegations,” the spokeswoman said

An IBAC spokeswoman told the Colac Herald “for legal and operational reasons, it is inappropriate for IBAC to comment on whether or not any matter might or might not be the subject of an investigation”.

A Department of Environment and Primary Industries spokeswoman said the organisation “would co-operate with any external investigation”.

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