May 31, 2012

Council waits on wind farm health report 31 May 2012

The Mt Emerald wind farm planned for the Tableland could be delayed while the council waits for new research.

It comes after Queensland Health advised Tablelands Regional Council to take a “precautionary approach” to the project because of growing evidence of the potential health effects of wind farms and the noise they generate, Cairns Post reports.

In a letter to the council, Queensland Health’s director of environmental health, David Sellars, urged careful consideration and pointed to the Victorian Government’s wind energy policy as “current best practice”.

The Victorian policy imposes a ban on wind turbines within 2km of existing houses. If applied to the $550 million Mt Emerald project, those restrictions would impact on nine houses.

Queensland Health enforces no mandatory set-backs for wind turbines near other buildings.

But it will reconsider its policy at the end of the year based on the findings of an ongoing review by the nation’s peak public health body, the National Health Medical Research Council.

The NHMRC is reviewing its position on the possible health effects of wind turbines and aims to release the findings by the end of the year.

Tablelands Mayor Rosa Lee Long said it would be wise for her council to wait for those findings before granting approval to the 75-turbine project near Walkamin.

“I think councillors would be very interested to see the outcomes of that before they vote on anything,” Cr Lee Long said.

The development application was lodged with the Tablelands council last August and is being assessed by planning officers before it goes to councillors for a vote.

Ratch Australia, the developers behind the Mt Emerald wind farm proposal, insist there is no rationale for the 2km set-backs enforced elsewhere in the country.

“Every site is unique and there is no scientific consideration that justifies the set-back,” the company said in a written statement yesterday.

The company, which has partnered local developers Port Bajool for the project, says it will be guided by the NHMRC for any evidence of turbine-related health risks.

Read more at the Cairns Post.

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