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Wind farm opponents demand action  

Credit:  By DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | December 14, 2015 | www.cairnspost.com.au ~~

Opponents of the Mt Emerald Wind Farm claim expert advice was ignored before the $380 million project was approved by the Queensland Government.

The Tablelands Wind Turbine Action group has demanded an emergency meeting with the government to discuss why expert advice about potentially harmful ­effects of wind turbines was “withheld”.

The Mt Emerald Wind Farm, which has been approved by the State and Federal governments, includes 63 towers to deliver up to 650,000 mW of power.

One of the conditions placed on the development by the state says that all turbines must be at least 1.5km from any existing dwelling.

However Right to Information (RTI) documents obtained by the group show the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s technical noise specialist, Antoine David, warned a distance of 1500m as a buffer between wind turbines and homes would “not be sufficient for the current size of (the) wind turbine”.

He states the distance requirement originated years ago for much smaller-sized turbines.

Group spokesman Steve Lavis said the RTI documents showed Dr David’s advice was withheld by his department.

“It is clear from the information in the document that the Mt Emerald Wind Farm proposal is a threat to our community,’’ he said.

“The proposed State Wind Farm Code, that is currently out for public consultation, will be inadequate to protect the health and wellbeing of Queensland communities.”

Construction on the wind farm, a joint venture between energy provider Ratch Australia and property developer Port Bajool, is expected to start within 12 months.

Mr Lavis said the community wanted a guarantee from the Premier the expert advice would be considered in the ­renegotiation of the permit conditions for the wind farm.

The project is a joint venture between Ratch Australia and Port Bajool, and will have the potential to power about 75,000 homes for more than 20 years.

A Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning spokeswoman said the proposed setback of 1500m was consistent with ­research conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and was also supported by Queensland Health.

“The draft wind farm code is important to ensure we provide a consistent and sensible whole-of-government approach to assessing, constructing and operating new or expanded wind farm ­proposals through the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA),’’ she said.

“The draft code has been developed using national and international best practice.”

She said all applications submitted during consultation for the draft wind farm code would be considered as part of the process, and integrated into the State Development Assessment Provisions next year.

She said if supported, the code would help Queensland reach a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030.

Source:  By DANIEL BATEMAN | The Cairns Post | December 14, 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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