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Council action to shut down turbines on Windy Hill

The operator of a 20-turbine wind farm at Windy Hill is facing legal action over noise generated at the site near Ravenshoe with the possibility three turbines could be shut down at night.

The Tablelands Regional Council held a confidential discussion yesterday on a report from Ratch Australia’s noise experts and the report from a firm it employed to do a peer review.

Councillors decided to instruct P&E Law to start proceedings in the Planning and Environment Court seeking orders requiring Ratch Australia to carry out a monitoring program in accordance with the appropriate standards relating to the assessment and measurement of sound from wind turbine generators.

Councillors also asked the court to order the shutdown of three turbines during the evening and night until Ratch could prove compliance with the standards and the compliance was confirmed by a peer review report. The court action follows a complaint from a local resident.

Under the original conditions of the approval imposed by the former Herberton Shire Council in 1999, noise monitoring was supposed to be carried out periodically for periods of three months or more.

But there are no records showing the monitoring was ever done.

Ratch Australia’s chief executive Steve Loxton was unavailable for comment last night.

Ratch was given permission last year to build a 17-turbine wind farm at Evelyn, near Ravenshoe, and has an application before the council to build 79 wind turbines at Mt Emerald, near Walkamin.

Colin Walkden, the resident whose complaint sparked the council action, said last night he was delighted.

Mr Walkden lives about 450m from the nearest turbine.

“For the last 12 years I have been waiting for this result,” he said. “The noise here is pretty bad.”

He blames the turbines for health issues, including sleep deprivation.