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Tableland wind farm proposal anger at gale force  

Credit:  DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | August 10, 2014 | www.cairnspost.com.au ~~

Only 3 per cent of Tableland residents living near a proposed wind farm support the renewable energy project, according to a new survey.

A community survey on the controversial Mt Emerald Wind Farm was tabled in State Parliament this week by Darymple MP Shane Knuth.

The $380 million development, which is to include up to 75 turbines, will generate up to 225mW of electricity a year – enough to power 75,000 homes.

Each of the turbines is to stand upwards of 90m, about three times taller than Cairns Hospital.

The project, a joint venture between power producer Ratch Australia and property developer Port Bajool, is estimated to create 158 jobs, with up to 45 people to be employed locally once it is complete.

The Queensland Government is assessing the project and a decision whether to approve it will be made this year.

The survey of 288 households found more than 90 per cent opposed the wind farm.

Ten households supported the development, while 14 families neither supported nor opposed it.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Knuth claimed residents’ views were not being heard by the State Government, as they were not being given any legal right to object or make submissions.

“The community has overwhelmingly rejected this disaster in the making,’’ he said.

“It is a massive experiment over a prime wealthy farming area.

“Is the government intending to foist the development upon an unwilling public? Is the government listening?

“Nearly half of the survey respondents raised the issue of declining property values.

“Already, over $1.5 million has been wiped off property values in one lifestyle subdivision alone – a 30 per cent loss in some cases.”

Mr Knuth questioned the environmental health impact of the wind turbines.

“Ratch is intending to subject residents to industrial noise much higher than would be allowed for any other project in rural Queensland,’’ he said.

“Questions are not being answered. Will residents be able to sleep?”

Ratch Australia has refuted accusations the farm will generate noise pollution, claiming any sound generated by the turbines will be less than that heard on a typical quiet suburban street (40 decibels).

The company and Port Bajool picked Mt Emerald for its “excellent” wind source, its proximity to the electricity grid, and potential for only minimal” environmental and social impact.

The developers have assured residents they will not be disturbed by the turbines, once they are operational and built to Australian regulations.

Tablelands Wind Turbine Action spokesman Steve Lavis hoped the new survey brought the community’s concerns to the attention of State Development Minister Jeff Seeney.

“It’s a good project, but in the wrong location,” he said.

“We have got a large amount of open space up here in North Queensland.”

Source:  DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | August 10, 2014 | www.cairnspost.com.au

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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