The Australian federal government has blocked one of the nation's largest renewable projects, citing a "clearly unacceptable" damage to the environment. The federal environment minister rejected the proposal to build a 26,000-megawatt wind and solar project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the proposed expansion of the Asian Renewable Energy Hub will cause too much damage to the Ramsar wetlands and the migratory birds that live there.

"I am of the view that the impacts of the proposed action on matters of national environmental significance are clearly unacceptable because the action would result in unavoidable, permanent and irreversible damage on the Eighty-Mile Beach Ramsar site that provides critical habitat to the survival of migratory birds," Ley said.

Ley's decision sparked an immediate reaction from green energy advocates, which accused the federal government of intentionally derailing projects that would accelerate the nation's transition away from fossil fuels.

Last month, the federal Minister for Resources for Northern Australia rejected a proposed $280 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. The funds would have been used to develop a wind farm and battery storage hub in northern Queensland.

The Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility slammed the federal government for reaching such a decision without consulting all the parties involved in the project. The Clean Energy Council said it has already submitted a request for "urgent clarification" on the government's decision.

The project had already been approved for development but the proposed expansion had included a plan to build an underwater transmission cable to Indonesia and Singapore.

Sources familiar with the matter said the project will likely be revised to take into account the environmental concerns before it is resubmitted for approval. A consortium of companies is leading the push to complete the AREH project.

The group includes Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, Hong Kong-based energy company InterContinental Energy and Australia's CWP Renewables. The consortium expects to make a final investment decision by 2025, including the signing of supply agreements.

The consortium said it is "working to understand the minister's concern" and it is engaging with government officials to refine the project's designs.