Cr Marjorie Pagani, who represents people living in Tolgaand Walkamin most directly affected by the scheme, said that despite repeated requests, RATCH-Australia had “completely ignored” requests for the information required.
RATCH, which wants a six-month extension of time till April next year to supply the information, has said that the detail required was out of its control as the company was conducting technical and environmental studies, as required under Federal legislation, which would take some time to complete.
Geoff Dutton of RATCH told The Cairns Post that the company was on track to submit an Environmental Impact Statement to Canberra and expected the review to take several months.
“This essential EIS review remains the primary reason for our request for an extension of time,” he said.
Mr Dutton said that Commonwealth environmental considerations had to precede its responses to the TRC.
“Council officers acknowledge this and we are disappointed at the continuing inability of Councillor Pagani to understand the need for the extension,” he said.
Councillors meeting in Mareeba put off consideration of RATCH’s request for an extension of time until its next meeting to see whether the Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, Jeff Seeney, extended what is known as a Temporary Local Planning Instrument, which gives the council greater power to consider wind farm developments, before it lapsed on October 7.
Granting RATCH an extension of time would effectively mean that the wind farm application would be heard by the new Mareeba Shire Council after de-amalgamation on January 1, though RATCH said that de-amalgamation was not a factor.
Senior Planner Peter Pattison told councillors the Minister was on holiday and that the TLPI was on his desk.
In a written report he noted the Minister’s “refusal to deal with a wind farm amendment to the Mareeba Shire Planning Scheme”.
Officers recommended granting the extension sought by RATCH, but Cr Pagani said they should wait for the Minister’s decision rather than grant RATCH an extension of time now.
“I don’t think it is appropriate to abandon the people of Division 6, in terms of just flicking this matter to another council (the MSC) where almost none of the affected residents will live,” she said.
Mr Pattison’s report said it was unclear whether the new MSC would take the concerns of TRC residents into consideration when deciding the application.
A spokesperson for Mr Seeney said: “We are considering the … amendment and the Deputy Premier will make a decision before the Temporary Local Planning Instrument expires on 7 October 2013.”
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