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Wind farm noise checks doubts: Court bid to force tests

The Tablelands Regional Council has launched a court bid to force the operator of a wind farm near Ravenshoe to carry out a noise monitoring program and shut down three of its turbines at night.

The application was lodged in the Cairns Planning and Environment Court on Friday after discussions were held earlier this month on the findings from two reports; one by operator Ratch Australia’s noise experts, and a peer review.

Despite original conditions for the approval of the 20-turbine farm by the former Herberton Shire Council in 1999 including periodic noise monitoring, there are allegedly no records of it having ever been done.

Tablelands Regional Council Mayor Rosa Lee Long told The Cairns Post she was hopeful the issue could be sorted out in court.

“It is a big concern, and it is something that has to be sorted out before it can go much further,” she said. “Nobody likes to go to court, but … (sometimes) you don’t have much choice.”

The council is also seeking an order that the farm shut down three turbines during the evening and night until Ratch can prove compliance with the standards and it is backed up by a peer-review report.

The application will be heard in court for the first time on September 17 before Judge Bill Everson in Cairns.

Ratch has not filed a response to the application at this stage, but its CEO Steve Loxton has said he was confident the farm was operating within the requirements of its permit conditions.

The company 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.