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New deadline for Mt Emerald wind farm on Atherton Tableland near Cairns

The developers of a proposed Tableland wind farm have given the Queensland Government a new deadline to ­approve the $380 million ­project, regardless of who wins the state election.

It comes as residents ­demand a delay on the alternative energy development until more scientific research can be carried out on potential health impacts of turbines.

Ratch Australia has given government until the end of February to green-light the Mt Emerald wind farm, which was awaiting a ministerial decision before the election was called.

Once a state election is called, a government needs to avoid entering into major contracts or undertakings during the caretaker period.

Ratch Australia spokesman Geoff Dutton said no matter which party formed government, the company would maintain a new February 27 deadline for the development.

“We do expect that once the election is completed, that the DA (development approval) will be approved because we’ve crossed all the Ts and dotted all our Is, so it’s ready to go,’’ he said.

“My understanding is the approval is there and the government department is saying this is a good project, but it just needs ministerial approval.

“Ratch Australia respects the situation and the political realities of an election.”;

The wind farm, to be built near Walkamin, is to include up to 63 turbines, on towers about 80m-90m tall, with about 50m blades.

Ratch Australia spokesman Geoff Dutton with land owners Wendy Morris and her father John Morris during a question and answer session last year.

It has the potential to generate enough electricity to power at least 75,000 homes a year. It is estimated 158 jobs could be created during the ­development’s two-year construction phase.

Mr Dutton said if there was a blackout, the wind farm would still generate power to prevent thousands of homes from losing electricity.

“On average … based on half-hourly readings over several years, that wind farm will supply 75,000 homes on a continuous basis,’’ he said.

“I think, if the grid turns off, that wind farm will still probably be generating.”;

A community survey of Tableland residents living near the proposed development site found only 3 per cent supported the project.

But Mr Dutton said the company believed a majority was in favour.

“Ratch Australia believes all of the locals are on side except for a very small group of fewer than 10 people,’’ he said.

Residents called for a moratorium on the wind farm following the release of a study this week that showed people living near wind farms faced health risks from the low-frequency noise.