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Wind farm a future blight on pleasant present

A North Queensland development company sold residents a quiet rural lifestyle “surrounded by nature” – and then announced its plan to build a wind farm next door.

Oaky Creek Farms estate, about 90 minutes’ drive from Cairns, has views of the Great Dividing Range. But those mountains could soon be covered in 130m-tall turbines.

Residents who bought into stages one and two were promised a “quality rural lifestyle”, with brochure images of the picturesque range.

“No matter how you spend your days, in the evening you can relax on your veranda surrounded by nature and the peaceful environment of this quiet valley,” a brochure read.

Stage three, for sale now, advertises “superb views of the mountains” with no mention of the future wind farm.

Lee Schwerdtfeger, a resident who built her house with 15sq m of sliding doors to soak up the view, said the wind farm would be “a blight on the landscape”.

Early indications are the Schwerdtfegers could be looking out at 15 to 20 turbines.

“We had 40sq m of verandas built so we could enjoy views of the hills. We put all our money into the house; it’s our retirement, where we want to live and enjoy,” she said.

“We’re growing fruit trees and we have chooks and land. All you want is peace and quiet.”

The Mt Emerald Wind Farm is a partnership between development company Port Bajool, which owns the land, and Transfield Services.

Port Bajool has been building residential and rural property in north Queensland for more than 20 years, including Oaky Creek Farms.

The wind farm will have 70 to 80 turbines on a plateau in the tableland region.

As well as visual amenity, residents are concerned about potential noise pollution from the spinning blades and the health effects of so-called “wind turbine syndrome”.

They are demanding to know whether the wind farm was on the table when Port Bajool sold them the land.

Mrs Schwerdtfeger said the wind farm would devalue their properties.

Prices had already dropped significantly since blocks first came on the market in 2007.

Port Bajool director John Morris said residents had been informed “immediately” when the wind farm proposal was mooted.

“Since that time we have kept them informed. Where possible we have adjusted the layout for minimal impact,” he said.

“I guess the visual amenity is all subjective as to whether you like them or don’t like turbines.”

Mr Morris said the company was confident land values would not deteriorate.