Significant Habitat Will be Destroyed

Environmental impacts not only include our views and our habitats but also the habitats of animals, birds, bees, and the rest of nature, usually relied upon for correcting our impacts and pollution.  Having these detrimental effects on the welfare of these natural habitats will not only impact our local environments but may potentially impact environments at a regional, national and global level if species are put at risk.  Impacts on wildlife habitats can take many forms:

transmission line ‘right-of-ways’

Transmission Line ‘right-of-ways’

The first of these is the effect of physical disturbance or destruction of natural land and air habitats. Clearing of trees, shrubs, and other plant growth areas (as required for transmission line ‘right-of-ways’), are extensive and impact large areas.

Habitats in these areas are never able to recover to their original state because of the need to ensure ongoing accessibility to infrastructure for security, repairs, and maintenance. This generally results in permanent damage to, or loss of, significant plant and animal species from the area.

wedge tailed eagle death

Bird Deaths and Overhead Transmission Lines

Bird deaths associated with overhead transmission lines have been reported for more than 100 years (Coues 1876, Cohen 1896, Emerson 1904). A 2014 literature review (by Public Library of Science) of available data showed an estimated 12-64 million birds killed each year in USA alone from strikes with transmission lines and from electrocution.

A similar range of deaths was also found for Canada. These numbers are much higher than deaths attributed to wind turbines and communication towers/lines. Some electricity transmission companies in the USA have been fined large sums for adversely effecting animal and bird populations (e.g. Bald and Golden-Eagle deaths – Moon Lake Electric Association, 1999). Similarly, Australian bird (e.g. eagle, hawk, falcon, cockatoo, etc.,) populations, are also at significant physical and health associated risks from transmission lines and towers. TasNetwork’s (Tasmanian Government owned Electricity Transmission and Distribution company) annual report showed that 29 Tasmanian wedged-tail eagles (which are endangered in Tasmania with only 350 mating pairs in the state), were killed with strikes to electricity infrastructure in 2017-2018. A Goshawk and white-bellied sea eagle were also killed.

Social Impact

Lerderderg State Park – Significant Habitat

The Lerderderg State Park encompasses scenic and geological gorge formations surrounding the Lerderderg River as well as the volcanic cone of Mount Blackwood. The park is known for its remote setting and the 300m deep Lerderderg River gorge is a dominant feature. Private land abuts the park to the south. The narrow corridor between private land and the park represents the AoI.

The community is concerned of the amenity impacts the transmission lines will have on these natural landscapes and the negative impact that will have on the State and Regionally significant landscapes and views that were identified in the South West Landscape Assessment Study (Planisphere, 2012).

The South West Landscape Assessment Study Describes the Lerderderg as…

This landscape is iconic as a wild and rugged place within the context of the broader regional landscape, in close proximity to Melbourne.

The distinctive rock formations and contrast in vegetation patterns of the gorge is iconic and scarce within the local context.

The composition of views and landscape elements within the Park are iconic in the context of the immediate location. Panoramic views of the broader landscape from Mount Blackwood are exceptional.

Swift Parrot

Threatened Fauna

Based on an appraisal of records and potential and known habitats in the area, eight threatened fauna species are considered to have a moderate to high potential to occur within or directly surrounding the Area of Interest. These species are: Curlew, Sandpiper, Swift Parrot, Australian Painted-snipe, Growling Grass Frog, Golden Sun Moth, Small Golden Moth, Spotted-tailed Quoll and Striped Legless Lizard.

powerful owl 1

Fauna

The Lerderderg is a haven for koalas, eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies and echidnas. Nocturnal animals include the greater glider, mountain brushtail possum and bent-wing bat.

Bird life abounds including Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, the majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle which can be seen from many vantage points soaring above the area. Black Cockatoos, White Knapped Honeyeaters, White Throat Tree Creepers, Crimson Rosellas, Gang – Gang Cockatoos, the Superb Lyrebird and Large Forest Owls are also to be found throughout the area.

High voltage transmission lines are known killers of wedge-tailed eagles and other raptors.

Grey Box Gum

Flora

The Lerderderg State Park supports a range of vegetation types, including a riparian Blue Gum and Manna Gum community of State significance and 23 significant plant species including over 200-year-old Grey Box Gums. These are to be found within the State Park as well on adjacent private land. There is a striking transition of vegetation following a rainfall gradient from south to north. Dry Stringybark–Box forests near the gorge mouth, and Box–Ironbark woodlands along the high ridges of the south, grade into taller, damper Messmate– Peppermint–Gum forests along the northern boundary of the Park.

Vegetation associations in the Lerderderg Gorge supporting Blue Gum and Manna Gum have been assessed as being of State significance for their development and intact condition (LCC 1991). More than 320 native plant species have been recorded in the Park including seventeen exotic plant species. Eleven species regarded as either rare or threatened in Victoria have been located in the Park. Buloke is listed under Schedule 2 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. The distribution and status of threatened plants within the Park are uncertain.

Many plant species in the Park are considered to be significant in the western part of the State. These include species such as Slender Saw-sedge, Tortuous Rapier-sedge and Dwarf Geebung that are localised, depleted, have disjunct occurrence or are at the edge of their range.

Weeds

Weeds of most concern within the Lerderderg State Park include Gorse, Bridal Creeper and Blackberry. Serrated Tussock, which infests surrounding cleared land, poses the greatest potential threat to the ecology of the Park.

Cinnamon Fungus

Cinnamon Fungus

Phytophthora cinnamomi (Cinnamon Fungus) is a microscopic, soil-borne disease-causing organism that attacks and destroys plant root systems causing plants to die through lack of water and nutrients. Patches of dead or dying vegetation can indicate the presence of this silent killer and grass trees are particularly susceptible.

The invasive Cinnamon Fungus has been recorded at a number of sites within the Lerderderg State Park. The fungus seriously affects native vegetation and causes the death of susceptible species. There is no known cure.

The disease spreads naturally but is accelerated though the transport of infected soil and gravel by road-making machinery and other vehicles. Quarantine and vehicle hygiene to limit the spread of the disease can only be achieved through an up-to-date knowledge of its distribution and by restricting access to uninfected sites.

Cinnamon Fungus is listed in the top 100 of the world’s most invasive species and is Victoria’s most significant plant pathogen affecting both native ecosystems and the horticultural industry.

The presence of Cinnamon Fungus threatens not only vegetation communities – it can alter the ecology of entire ecosystems.

Birds, insects, reptiles and mammals that depend on the original plant species for their survival also decline in numbers as shelter and food sources disappear.

Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

It is well documented that overhead high voltage power lines produce Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) that impact significantly on the immune systems, hormones, behaviour and fertility of birds, animals, and bees.

Impacts of EMFs from overhead high voltage transmission lines on man-made environments like farms is also widely reported with health and productivity effects recorded for: pets, cows, pigs, bees, and crops. Large compensation payments have been awarded to farmers whose livestock suffered increased mortality, disease and reduced yields because of EMFs generated by overhead high voltage transmission lines (e.g., France 2008).

Sterilisation of Rich Farming and Bushland

Sterilisation of Carbon Rich Bushland

Residents take great pride to ensure properties work in harmony with nature through safeguarding biodiversity practices (planting native trees and land care measures) producing a positive green effect. Easements for transmission lines sterilise this rich bushland by will exposing great swaths of land, harming our environment. Forests regulate our climate by removing carbon from the air (carbon sequestration) and storing it.

The Victorian Government’s Climate Change Act 2017 has a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Forests are an important element of the global carbon cycle, hence good management of forests and restoration (not removal) programs will protect stocks of stored carbon and can increase carbon sequestration in the future.

The Victorian government is working to increase the carbon storage capacity of forests. Enhancing the long-term protection of existing forests, storing carbon, and the contribution of Victorian forests to the global carbon cycle is critical.

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Welcome to the home of Darley Power Fight. A group of residents in Darley, Coimadai and Merrimu, united against high voltage transmission towers passing through our backyard. We came together through the realisation the transmission line will divide a narrow corridor between Darley and the Lerderderg State Park; altering landscape character, causing widespread damage to critical habitat for threatened species, increasing fire risk to the Park and thousands of residents, destroy our visual amenity, harm local agriculture and will impact businesses and property values. It will completely desecrate, in a few years, what nature has taken millions of years to create.

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