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Decision on controversial Tableland wind farm due mid-March  

Credit:  DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | February 28, 2015 | www.cairnspost.com.au ~~

A controversial wind farm planned for the Tableland could be approved within the next two weeks.

The Palaszczuk Government is expected to make a decision about the Mt Emerald wind farm, four years after the project was first tabled.

A spokeswoman for Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Minister’s call-in of the development application was due in mid-March.

Developers for the $380 million project gave the Government until the end of February to approve the wind farm, which was awaiting a ministerial decision before the election was called.

The development, to be built near Walkamin, between Atherton and Mareeba, is to include up to 63 turbines on towers about 80m-90m tall, with about 50m blades.

The farm, a joint venture between Ratch Australia and Port Bajool, has the potential to generate enough electricity to power at least 75,000 homes.

It is estimated 158 jobs could be created during the ­development’s two-year construction phase.

Ratch Australia spokesman Geoff Dutton said representatives from the company’s Brisbane office had recently met with the newly elected Government to brief it on the project.

“I think Ratch would be delighted in getting an answer after four years of hard work,’’ he said.

“We’re very hopeful the wind farm will be approved.

“We believe Ratch has done everything that is appropriate, correctly, to produce an outcome that will be suitable to the community.”

A group of vocal residents within Walkamin has, for years, been opposing the wind farm, voicing concerns over the health and environmental impacts the project could have on the community.

They have called for no wind farm approvals in Queensland until proper health research can be carried out.

Tablelands Wind Turbine Action spokesman Steve Lavis said he was concerned the Minister would make a decision without speaking to affected residents.

“We’ve certainly, in writing, requested a meeting,’’ he said.

A parliamentary inquiry in June, sparked by a cohort of senators including independents Nick Xenophon and John Madigan, is investigating the effects of wind turbines.

Mr Lavis said a decision on Mt Emerald should be delayed until the inquiry was handed down.

“We’re three months away from a Senate inquiry,’’ he said.

“Plus, we haven’t yet had a wind farm code for ­Queensland.

“Isn’t that two important things that need to be ­addressed?”

Source:  DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | February 28, 2015 | 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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