Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney will determine the fate of a controversial wind farm proposed on the far north’s Atherton Tableland.
Mr Seeney has informed the Mareeba Council he’s decided to ‘call in’ the development application to establish 75 wind turbines at Mt Emerald, about 100 kilometres west of Cairns.
The move has been welcomed by both the mayor of Mareeba, Tom Gilmore, and opponents of the wind farm, who agree the size and complexity of the assessment is beyond the technical and financial resources of the council.
But Steve Lavis, from the Tablelands Wind Turbine Action Group, admits he has reservations about the decision being taken out of the local community.
“I’m going to be hopeful, I’m going to be positive that it’ll be done in the correct manner and nothing will be hurried through,” he said.
“The concern I suppose I have is the mayor would probably look at local issues, I would think, more than the Deputy Premier. It’s important that we do consider the local issues, the people that are going to be impacted. They must be protected at all costs.
“The ones that are going to have their property devalued, the noise imposed on them, the restrictions on agricultural aerial spraying, their natural environment that’s going to be affected forever if it goes ahead.”
Early indications from a survey conducted by the action group of every resident within a five-kilometre radius of the proposed site has shown 90 per cent do not want a wind farm at Mt Emerald.
Mr Lavis says the results are no surprise, but it was important to debunk claims by the proponent, Ratch Australia, that the action group represented a minority view.
Mayor Tom Gilmore says it is entirely appropriate for the decision to fall into state jurisdiction, rather than council’s.
“It is clear that this proposed development falls clearly within the responsibility of the state and involves state interests both economic and environment,” he said.
“Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that the matter be called in and that Mareeba Shire Council can now move to other pressing matters.”
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