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Seeney admits issues with wind farm planning rules

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney has acknowledged there are “some shortcomings” in planning regulations applying to Mt Emerald wind farm proposal near Walkamin.

The Tablelands Regional Council wants an amendment to the Mareeba Shire Planning Scheme – which it says isn’t up to the task of assessing wind farms – to include specific provisions to deal with wind farms.

spokesman for Mr Seeney, who is also the Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, said that his department was looking at the council’s proposal.

Eventually there would also be a state planning policy on wind farms which would take precedence over local planning schemes.

The $ 540 million Mt Emerald project involving construction of 7579 turbines has been put forward by Ratch Australia and owners of the land, Port Bajool.

Last year the former Labor administration granted the TRC a Temporary Local Planning Instrument giving the council greater powers to impose conditions, but that is due to expire on October 7.

Mayor Rosa Lee Long said she was “very concerned” that there had been no reply from the Government.

“We still have not had a response from the minister on the one that has already gone in, so our officers are going to do a new (TLPI) application and get that sent in as well,” Cr Lee Long said.

A spokesman for Mr Seeney said: “The Deputy Premier is aware that there are some shortcomings with respect to local planning instruments in the former Mareeba Shire to appropriately deal with wind farm developments.” His department was examining the TRC’s proposal to amend the planning scheme.

Ratch Australia CEO Steve Loxton said that Mt Emerald wind farm was addressing a council request for further information to help it better understand and clarify parts of its code-assessable application.

He said the application was made taking into account relevant provisions of the TLPI and recognised that the council was also seeking an amendment to the local planning scheme.