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Walkamin windfarm protesters warn: just keep your distance

Wind farm protesters at Walkamin would like to see the State Government adopt Victorian or New South Wales’ 2km rule for the proposed Mt Emerald development.

“Two kilometres is a good start, but it doesn’t guarantee that there would be no problems,” activist Lee Schwerdtfeger said.

Victoria has a policy that wind farms cannot be closer than 2km to homes without owners’ consent.

In NSW there is a similar policy in draft but where there is no agreement, developers can still get planning consent if they fulfil rigorous noise and environmental conditions.

Developers Ratch Australia have an application before the Tablelands Regional Council for a 75-turbine wind project costing $520 million at Mt Emerald.

Several properties are closer than 2km to the proposed site.

Local Government Minister Paul Lucas is looking at a draft wind farm amendment to the Mareeba Shire Planning Scheme, which will eventually go to public consultation.

Mrs Schwerdtfeger said that her group, Tablelands Wind Turbine Action, would like to see the 2km rule go hand in hand with Queensland’s Environmental Protection (Noise) Policy.

“It would mean no more than 30dB indoors at night and it would mean that the health and wellbeing, environmental values, including the ability of people to sleep, would be protected,” she said.

Mrs Schwerdtfeger said residents would prefer the Government to adopt the Victorian model but added that even 2km would not guarantee a good night’s sleep.

“In mountainous areas many acousticians recommend 3km or even 3.5km to reduce the noise impact.”