The Tablelands Regional Council has been accused of being “openly hostile” towards a controversial wind farm project and trying everything to impede its progress.
It comes as the Senate launches an inquiry into the effectiveness of wind turbines, scrutinising their regulatory governance and economic impact.
The $380 million project to be built near Walkamin is to include up to 75 turbines.
It is a joint venture by property developers Port Bajool and power producers Ratch Australia.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney called in the development application in June, taking responsibility to assess it away from the Mareeba Shire Council, which de-amalgamated from the Tablelands Regional Council.
Mr Seeney has promised not to make a decision over the Mt Emerald Wind Farm until he meets with residents at this weekend’s Community Cabinet in Mareeba.
In an email obtained by The Cairns Post, Cook MP David Kempton responded to claims his government had ignored residents’ concerns about the wind farm, assuring there had been a full and proper investigation of the project.
“The Tablelands Regional Council has been openly hostile to this project from the outset,’’ he said.
“I have given full personal support to this project as I believe the regional benefits will far out-weight the perceived and in many cases, misguided information.
“I can also assure you I have received many delegations from the opponents over the time since this project was mooted.”
When questioned about the email by The Cairns Post, Mr Kempton only offered the following statement:
“The (wind farm) is being determined by the Deputy Premier and I have confidence there will be proper and rigorous process around the determination,” he said.
Tableland Division 6 Councillor Marjorie Pagani said the council had legitimately raised a number of concerns about the development when the application first came to the council, and there had been no vote taken on it.
“What he is interpreting as open hostility was in fact a series of requisition questions sent by our planning department to the developer, which were never answered,’’ he said.
“There were pages and pages of very significant and important questions relating to planning, roads, noise, environmental/ecological issues, and even size of turbines, for example.
“They hadn’t even put the size of their proposed development, or the size of each turbine.”
Tableland Mayor Rosa Lee Long, in a statement, said since the Mareeba Shire Council had taken over the application after de-amalgamation, TRC continued to have concerns, including the potential impact of heavy vehicles on local roads during the construction process.
Meanwhile, the Senate has launched an inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines.
The inquiry, a first in Australia, will examine issues such as impact on household electricity prices, the role of the Clean Energy Regulator, effect on fauna, planning processes, and whole-of-life inputs and outputs.
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