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Atherton Tableland wind farm meeting blows hot

A gusty debate over the Mt Emerald wind farm development saw residents air their concerns at a public meeting at Walkamin last Wednesday.

Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth and Katter’s Australian Party candidate for Cook Lachlan Bensted attended the forum, which saw about 20 locals gather to express their fears over the $520million proposal to build 75-turbines between Mareeba and Atherton.

Walkamin farmer Steve Lavis said residents had received little consultation about the project.

“We have had no assurances or information about the potential impact that will be felt from this development,” he said.

“There has been no mention of compensation for health issues or financial losses caused not to mention the impact on our lifestyle.”

Addressing the crowd, Mr Knuth said the scale of the development and its potential impacts on residents was far too big for council to make a rushed decision.

“Council must fully investigate the effects of wind farms before a decision is made,” he said. “Research must be conducted and the recent senate inquiry used as a reference.

“The health department needs to be involved and compensation arrangements must be put in place for the 80 households that are impacted.”

Channel Rd farmer Jennifer Disley said it was outrageous that a resident who may be severely affected by the wind farm had no legal right to object to it.

Tableland Air Service owner and pilot Mark McDonald said he believed the wind farm posed an “unacceptable risk”.

“It will undermine the viability of my operation and the agricultural crops which depend on aerial spraying,” he said.

“We should be protecting our agri-business in the Mareeba-Dimbulah irrigation area, not jeopardising its growth.”