August 8, 2012

Court action on wind farm report

Nikky Taylor, The Tablelander, 7 Aug 2012

RATCH-Australia CEO Steve Loxton has said he is “sur­prised” by Tablelands Regional Council’s decision to commence court action against the com­pany.

TRC voted to start proceed­ings against Ratch for failing to comply with noise monitor­ing requirements at its Windy Hill Wind Farm.

The 20-turbine site at Ravenshoe was approved by the former Herberton Shire Council in 1999.

The original conditions of the approval required RATCH to conduct noise monitoring to be carried out periodically for peri­ods of three months or more.

But there are no records to show the monitoring has actu­ally been done, according to council and an independent report.

The TRC held a confidential discussion last Wednesday on a report from RATCH-Aus­tralia’s noise experts and the report from a firm it employed to do a peer review.

Councillors moved to instruct P&E Law to start proceedings in the Planning and Environ­ment Court.

Council is 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. But Mr Loxton said RATCH had commissioned two studies of the noise levels at Windy Hill including a three month meas­urement program at the site.

“All work was undertaken by independent noise experts and followed consultation with council,” Mr Loxton said.

“The noise study report con­cluded that Windy Hill com­plied with the council’s condi­tions of approval.

“We are surprised at TRC’s decision to initiate court pro­ceedings at this time. ” Meanwhile TRC is calling on residents to “have their say” on a technical paper re­lating to wind farms which has been released by the State Government. Some councillors raised concerns with recom­mendations made.

The paper is available through the Department of En­ergy and Water Supply.

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