It is clear that a decision needs to be made about the Mt Emerald wind farm sooner rather than later.
The Far North, in particular the small community of Walkamin, has been waiting for about four years to find out whether the $380 million alternative energy project will go ahead.
Since the development application was tabled at the Tableland Regional Council, locals have locked horns with developers Ratch Australia and Port Bajool over every single facet of the wind farm, especially potential health impacts the giant turbines may have upon residents.
Without a rigorous scientific study, the jury appears to still be out on this.
There are major differences between Mt Emerald and other wind farm projects, for example, by virtue of this development to be situated high above a mountain, and hence above homes and businesses, as opposed to on the plateau.
But having a project in development limbo for such a long time is not doing anyone any favours. The developers maintain the wind farm will be able to keep providing electricity to 75,000 homes in the event of a blackout.
With the wet season upon us, and already two major blackouts in the space of a week, any infrastructure that can hold up the Far North’s power in severe weather is most welcome.
Certainly, the State election has thrown a spanner into the approval process, but with Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney taking the time to listen to residents’ concerns about the wind farm at Walkamin last month during Mareeba’s Community Cabinet, we would hope that any decision would be based on the best expert advice, and address the concerns of all parties.
If these concerns cannot be addressed, then perhaps the developers need to go back to the drawing board.
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