A multi-billion-dollar Japanese company has been accused of killing koalas as it employs workers to chop down trees to develop a wind farm in Victoria’s southeast.
Mitsui is developing the Bald Hills wind farm in South Gippsland and has been carrying out vegetation clearance in recent weeks to pave the way for powerlines to the site.
About 600 trees are in the process of being ripped down and residents say they have found the bodies of three koalas, whose habitat has been destroyed.
Disturbing images of the dead koalas have been supplied to the Herald Sun.
Ann Blundy, who runs Cherry Tree Organics, which is adjacent to the wind farm development, said it was heartbreaking to see the impact of the clearance work.
“It is having a massive impact on the local koalas,” Mrs Blundy said.
“A lot of people in the local community are very upset and there has been a great deal of concern for the koalas.”
Australian Koala Foundation chief executive Deborah Tabart said koalas were not protected by law in Victoria as they were in other states.
“Why are Victorian koalas exempt from protection from a national listing?” she said.
“The trees in that area look old and like a good habitat for koalas. It could have been done better.
“This is why the AKF wants a koala protection act. It would say that these trees cannot be cleared and another option should be available.”
The Herald Sun contacted Mitsui for comment and was called a short time later by Matthew Croome, the general manager of the wind farm.
Mr Croome said he was aware of one dead koala in the area but insisted the body was found away from where work was being carried out.
“I’m not aware of any koalas that have been harmed in the vegetation clearance,” he said.