State Government again stalls Tableland’s Mt Emerald wind farm decision as deadline for action looms
The Newman Government has ruled out making a decision on the Mt Emerald wind farm before the developer’s deadline at the end of the month.
Wind farm director John Morris had extended his initial deadline of December 19 to January 30 for the government to make a decision on the $380 million Tableland project.
A spokeswoman for Minister for State Development, Jeff Seeney, said he was unable to make a decision as Parliament had been dissolved and the state election was under way.
Once a state election is called, the government needs to avoid entering into major contracts or undertakings during the caretaker period. The basic conventions are directed to the making of decisions, and not to policy announcements.
Mr Morris has declined to comment on the news.
The wind farm, to be built near Walkamin, is to include up to 75 turbines, on towers about 80m-90m tall, with about 50m blades.
It has the potential to generate enough electricity to power 75,000 homes a year.
It is estimated 158 local jobs could be created over the development’s two-year construction phase.
The project is a joint venture between property developers Port Bajool and power producers Ratch Australia.
Mr Seeney “called in” the development’s application in June, taking responsibility to assess it off Mareeba Shire Council.
He promised not to make a decision until he had met with affected residents at the Community Cabinet held in Mareeba last month.
Tablelands Wind Turbine Action spokesman Steve Lavis said the project had dragged on for four years.
“There has to be a sunset clause somewhere there, where we make a decision, and why put it off,” he said.
“Maybe they are putting it off because they don’t want to make unpopular decisions during an election time?”
A community survey of residents living within 5km of the proposed site for the wind farm found 90 per cent opposed it.
Mr Lavis said there were many environmental reasons not to progress with the project.
“I think that’s really been underestimated. People don’t realise just how large these turbines are going to be,” he said.
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