Developers of a proposed $540 million wind farm at Mt Emerald have been accused of dragging their feet so the project will be assessed by “friends” in the new Mareeba Shire Council rather than the Tablelands.
But that accusation has been stoutly denied by RATCH-Australia who say there are complex studies to be done for all three levels of government and that they are happy to work with any elected council.
Meanwhile Federal MP Bob Katter has described what the local residents are going through as “torture.”
Virtually all the 3000 people living in proximity to the 75-80 turbines live in Division 6 of the Tablelands Regional Council and will continue to do so after de-amalgamation at the end of the year.
Last week the TRC told developers RATCH-Australia to substantiate reasons for requesting an extension for answering questions relating to the proposal.
Mr Katter yesterday urged the TRC to stand its ground.
Mr Katter, Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth and TRC Division 6 councillor Marjorie Pagani said they would tell the incoming MSC there were “no benefits” if the wind farm proceeded.
“This project will provide virtually no jobs and it will hack into our pristine environment while disrupting our farming very seriously and the noise will make life extremely unhappy for everyone in that area,” said Mr Katter.
Steve Lavis, spokesman for Tablelands Wind Turbine Action, said: “What we are concerned about is Ratch looking for an easier passage through the development process.
“They want it to go before their friends at the MSC.
“People in Mareeba have said they think it is a great idea because it doesn’t impact on them,” hesaid.
But RATCH-Australia’s executive general manager operations and business development, Geoff Dutton, said the wind farm offered long-term benefits. He said a series of approvals was needed from all three levels of government, the most time consuming and labour-intensive of which was an environmental approval.
Mr Dutton said the main reason for seeking the time extension was that an environmental impact study would probably go to Canberra in October with a response expected in early 2014.
“We’d like the process to be faster, as would the council, but we are really in the hands of the Commonwealth on this,” Mr Dutton said.
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