- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Hydro Tasmania faces turbine fight

Hydro Tasmania could be facing legal action over their decision to proceed to the feasibility stage of the TasWind project.

The project is a 200-turbine, 600-megawatt wind farm proposed for King Island by the state owned company Hydro Tasmania and will be the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

King Island resident and No TasWind Farm Group member James Walker is expected to seek an injunction restraining Hydro Tasmania from undertaking any further work relating to the project.

Hydro Tasmania originally stated 60 per cent of the King Island community would need to vote yes to the feasibility stage for it to proceed however, after conducting a vote last month 58.7 per cent of the community voted yes to the feasibility stage and the company decided this figure was close enough.

The decision to proceed outraged some members of the community including the NTWFG which has sought legal advice on the matter.

NTWFG deputy chairman Donald Graham said the group sought advice from Queensland barrister Darlene Skennar who believed King Island residents had some grounds for a case against Hydro Tasmania.

The most promising is based on the legal principle of estoppel and would argue that Hydro Tasmania had led locals to believe it would abandon the project if it achieved less than 60 per cent support in a ballot of islanders.

Mr Walker has taken his case to Hobart barrister and solicitor Nick Beattie who has written to Hydro Tasmania demanding action from the company.

In documents seen by Weekly Times Now, Mr Beattie writes, “In making its decision to proceed with the project feasibility study despite failing to meet its own threshold of 60 per cent support in the survey Hydro Tasmania has failed to meet its own standard in decision making”.

“A decision made contrary to a commitment made by representation to interested parties and the public does not meet the ethical standards Hydro Tasmania sets itself.

“I am instructed that if Hydro Tasmania does not confirm within 21 days that it will refrain from conducting further work on the project, including conducting a pre-feasibility study, my clients will commence proceedings to compel Hydro Tasmania to do so.”

Mr Graham is using a Right to Inform process to get access to the videos of all the community meetings held by Hydro Tasmania and the TasWind Community Consultative Committee including Hydro Tasmania board meeting minutes from January 2012 to June 2013.

A spokesperson for Hydro Tasmania said the company is in receipt of correspondence from a solicitor acting for Mr Walker.

The spokesperson said Hydro Tasmania do not understand the basis on which there is any claim, the matter has been referred to their lawyers and a response will be made in due course.

Hydro Tasmania has commenced the early stages of planning for the feasibility phase with the current focus on visual impacts of the wind farm, a principal concern of the community.

Potential sites are currently being discussed with land owners.