After four years of red tape construction on Queensland’s largest wind farm could start within a year.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the $380 million Mount Emerald farm, in the Atherton Tablelands, on Thursday.
The farm could generate 650,000 megawatt hours of power and service up to 75,000 homes for two decades.
Joint developers Ratch Australia and Port Bajool have been tied up in federal and state approval processes for more than four years.
They hope to have construction started within 12 months.
“It’s been a long haul but it’s certainly worth it,” Port Bajool director John Morris said on Friday.
“We never thought about giving up.”
The farm is expected to create around 150 jobs during its construction phase.
But its approval has shocked some locals, who have scoffed at the developers’ comments about the process.
“It’s going to be an even longer road for us – the poor people impacted by this,” Steve Lavis from the Tablelands Wind Turbine Action Group told ABC radio.
“We’re going to have to live under this and live with these conditions.”
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch says the farm would provide cheaper and more efficient power than the energy that comes from faraway coal-powered stations.
He agreed the process had taken too long and called for the state and federal government assessment processes to be amalgamated.
“We need a rigorous process but if we don’t shorten the time frames we could see really good projects for our region lost,” the coalition MP said.
Up to 63 towers could be built on the farm. They would be 80 to 90m tall with 50-metre blades.
The approval is subject to 35 conditions, including measures to protect the vulnerable northern quoll, the spectacled flying-fox and the bare-rumped sheathtail bat.
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