A group of Tablelands residents hasn’t ruled out a legal challenge to stop Queensland’s largest wind farm being built near their homes.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt this week gave the $380 million alternative energy project at Mt Emerald near Walkamin the green light, subject to 35 strict conditions to minimise its environmental impact.
Tablelands Wind Turbine Action spokesman Steve Lavis said the group, which represents about 60 residents, was considering its options, including a possible legal challenge.
“We’re very disappointed, very hurt and very worried about our future,” he said.
“We’ve been here in excess of 10 years and have built our retirement home here.
“Now it’s going to be dramatically devalued.
“People have been trying to sell since the project was proposed with great difficulty and at a devalued price.”
Mareeba Mayor Tom Gilmore was confident the 180MW wind farm, a joint venture by Ratch Australia and property developers Port Bajool, had passed through the “finest filters”.
“It’s gone through the process, and the State and Commonwealth have said it’s OK to go,” he said.
“I understand some people are unhappy about the decision and unfortunately I can’t change that, so with the best of intent I say if it’s going to go ahead, let’s get the best benefits from it and ensure our shire grows as a result.”
Mareeba Chamber of Commerce president Joe Moro welcomed the project’s approval, which paves the way for construction to start on 63 turbines that will service 75,000 homes.
“We think it’s going to be important to the area and inject a fair bit of capital into local communities, Mareeba in particular,” he said.
Mr Moro also represents about 300 fruit and vegetable growers, whom he believes are mostly in favour of the wind farm.
State Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the decision had been a long time coming.
“This investment is a great way of diversifying the Tablelands’ economy,” he said.
“We need to look forward to the jobs, opportunities and industries of the future and this delivers exactly that.”
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