The Parrakie Wetlands are located within the West Avenue Range Watercourse and contain over 720 hectares of naturally occurring wetlands and intact remnant native vegetation. The area has not been grazed in over 30 years and has never been cleared.
This property makes up one of the largest privately held wetland in near perfect condition in the Upper South East of SA. In fact The West Avenue watercourse, of which the Parrakie wetland is a part, has been described by the minister's own department as 'arguably the largest and most pristine area of watercourse in the upper South East'
During October 2007 Hybrid Energy announced a proposal to develop a coal fired power station and mine near Kingston in the South East of the state. This proposal comes almost 25 years after the Western Mining Corporation investigated the feasibility of the same deposit and decided against the project due to the poor quality of the coal present and the large amounts of water that would need to be removed to access the deposit. While details if the project are being kept quiet, it is becoming apparent that the coal could be mined from directly beneath the Parrakie wetlands, possibly using an open cut method that will require the water to be removed from the surrounding areas and of course the wetland itself.
Apart from being a pristine native vegetation remnant these wetlands are also home to a number of endangered species, including the Southern Bell Frog, which is rated as being vulnerable throughout Australia, and requires fresh water and vegetation cover to ensure its survival. The Parrakie Wetlands are also home to the Yarra Pygmy-Perch, vulnerable throughout Australia and protected in South Australia (listed in SENRCC (2003)), the Mallee Fowl (vulnerable), Rosenbergs Goanna (rare), Beautiful Firetail (rare), Blue-Billed Duck (rare), and many other waterfowl. In fact the wetland is known to support over 130 species of birds.
The proposal is opposed by both the Green and the Democrats in South Australia, with the Greens MLC Mark Parnell stating that the plan made a mockery of the Rann Government's commitments on climate change. "Instead of Minister Conlon 'welcoming' the proposal, he should be sending the company a copy of his government's recently passed Climate Change Bill," he said.
Hybrid Energy report on their website that scoping studies have been conducted over the past two years, and the project will advance to the feasibility stage in early 2008, yet when questioned in Parliament the Minister for Environment and Conservation, Gail Gago, was unaware of the projects existence. It seems that the Government may well be finding it as hard as we are to obtain any concrete facts about the proposal.
The Society urges all members to follow the progress of this project throughout the coming months. We will continue to update the membership and provide details on our campaign against this development as more information becomes available.