News - 20 April 2024

The Wilderness Society welcomes Wooroora Station windfarm withdrawal

The Wooroora Station windfarm project was proposed for land that is vital habitat for native species, including the spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus). Image: Bruce Thomson.

The Wilderness Society welcomes the news that the proposed Wooroora Station windfarm, formerly known as Chalumbin windfarm in Far North Queensland will not go ahead. The withdrawal comes after news that the Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek was going to reject the project.

The project would have impacted almost 509 hectares of land bordering the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, including one of the last remaining areas of wet sclerophyll forest–crucial for the ongoing survival of many native plant and animal species, the climate and local economies.

The Wilderness Society previously expressed concerns to the proponent, Ark Energy, about: the proposal to clear wet sclerophyll forest; the fact that the area had also been identified as an offset area, going against the very purpose of offsets; the impact the project would have on threatened species, the lack of a buffer around the adjacent protected area; and the community’s rights to information and participation in environmental decision-making.

The fate of the proposed Wooroora Station windfarm sends a signal to state and federal governments and the renewable energy sector about the importance of prioritising natural and cultural heritage.

How we do renewables matters–for the climate, for nature and for people

The Wilderness Society recognises and supports an ambitious and rapid transition to renewable energy away from fossil fuels in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees as per the Paris agreement.

The considered expansion of renewable energy, like wind and solar farms, is critical to addressing the impacts of climate change, and so too is the protection and restoration of Australia’s forests and bushland.

The development of renewable energy must minimise negative impacts on natural and cultural values.

Protecting Queensland’s forests and bushlands

According to the latest Queensland Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS), 349,399 hectares of land was impacted by land clearing and deforestation between 2020-2021. This data shows that land clearing and deforestation is still a significant pressure on Queensland’s nature and a significant contributor to climate change.

It is critical that the development of renewable energy does not increase this pressure on nature, the climate and regional communities. The development of renewable energy infrastructure, including transmissions, must not negatively impact biodiversity and forests, both of which are crucial for our goals of a safe and sustainable climate future.

First Nations and the broader public must have a fair say on renewables

A just transition across the continent must enable First Nations and the broader public to have a fair say. Doing so will bring the community along for the transition, improve integrity and accountability and lead to better decisions for Queenslanders and the planet. The transition to renewable energy must therefore recognise and respect the following rights, which are enshrined in Queensland legislation and which Australia has signed onto internationally:

  • The right to know—to access the information that authorities hold.1

  • The right to participate—to have a genuine say in decision-making.2

  • The right to challenge—to seek legal remedy if decisions are made illegally or not in the public interest.3

  • Cultural and self-determination rights of First Nations, including to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent.4

Stronger federal nature laws

It’s time for the Federal government to strengthen our national nature law and ensure it applies to all sectors equally. Destruction of threatened wildlife species habitat and ecological communities perpetuates Australia’s extinction crisis, regardless of the type of sector and activity causing that destruction. Special treatment does not lead to good outcomes - for nature, economy, or society.

Reforms to the current environmental laws must:

  1. Be effective. The priority must be reversing the environmental decline already occurring. Changes to the law must actually change the status quo and stop environmental destruction.

  2. Be fair. The new laws must apply to all projects and sectors, without exemptions or carve-outs.

  3. Have integrity. Communities and First Nations must have a meaningful say in environmental decisions that affect them.

  4. Be forward-looking. Nature needs help to thrive in the future, including funding and recovery planning.


    1 Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), s 21(2); International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (entered into force 23 March 1976) (“ICCPR”), Art. 19(2); Annex I: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (A/ CONF/151/26/Rev.1, Vol.1) (“Rio Declaration”), Principle 10.
    2 Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), s 23; ICCPR Art 25(a); Rio Declaration, Principle 10.
    3 Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), s 59; ICCPR, Art. 2(3); Rio Declaration, Principle 10.
    4 Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld), s 28; ICCPR, Arts 1 and 27; United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 61/295, UN Doc. A/61/L.67 (13 September 2007), Arts. 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 28.