Plans to build the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm on King Island are being challenged in the Federal Court.
Lawyers for a community group on the Bass Strait island have issued a writ seeking an immediate injunction against the state government-owned Hydro Tasmania proceeding with the 200-turbine “TasWind” project.
In a 36-page statement of claim, the No TasWind Farm Group says Hydro falsely represents the $2 billion project as having a social licence and that it has caused financial injury to it and its members.
It alleges that Hydro broke its contract with the community and breached consumer law in walking away from a pledge to halt the project if fewer than 60 per cent of islanders voted in favour of it proceeding.
A ballot of islanders in late June returned a 58.7 per cent “yes” vote and Hydro decided to proceed with feasibility studies.
The action seeks courts orders restraining Hydro from claiming community support for the project and from denying it ever committed to the 60 per cent target, as well as from continuing with the project.
Neither party would comment yesterday. Hydro had previously backed away from the 60 per cent pledge on the basis that it was merely indicative of “broad community support” rather than a hard and fast target.
However, the writ includes public statements by senior managers repeatedly committing to the 60 per cent figure as the threshold for the project continuing to full feasibility stage.
These include then chief executive Roy Adair telling the local newspaper on January 30 that: “We are looking for 60 per cent approval to indicate broad support.”
The figure was repeated by other managers, including in an interview with The Australian, and published on Hydro’s website. Mr Adair was subsequently dumped as CEO, although Hydro denied this was because he had originated the 60 per cent target.
There is also controversy about the poll result itself, as the writ says 111 votes were declared invalid. Critics claim many of these votes were wrongly excluded because their names were not on a highly contentious register.
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