The fate of a controversial clean energy project on the Atherton Tablelands now hinges on federal approval after getting a green light from the state government, but a core group of concerned locals has not given up the fight.
More than a thousand submissions have been made by residents protesting the proposed wind farm fringing a declared Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, 15km from Ravenshoe.
Ark Energy, a subsidiary of Epuron, plans to build the Chalumbin Wind Farm which received state government approvals last June, but the project has encountered fierce community opposition since its inception.
An area of 32,000ha, considered high-value wildlife habitat zone, will be required to erect 86 wind turbines with a generation capacity of 602 megawatts of clean renewable energy.
The proposed turbines will be approximately 250m high.
Rainforest Reserves Australia president Carolyn Emms stressed the importance of the wildlife that would be affected if destruction of habitat was to take place.
“The proposed (area) is critical koala, broodfrog, greater glider habitat (and) the wrong place for an industrial wind hub,” she said.
“Petitions against the proposal were submitted. Over 450 submissions were then posted off to Canberra, but overall there would have been well over 1,000 submissions.”
Last October, Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the locations for the Kaban Wind Farm and the proposed Chalumbin Wind Farm were the subject of stringent environmental approvals.
“We do look for the best locations for these renewable energy projects,” Minister de Brenni said at the time.
“We look at the lowest impact on the environment, we look at the lowest impacts on communities, so they are all taken into account.”
Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter thought it was a “disgrace” that this would be considered.
“What’s happening here is they are taking a native wonderland and turning it into a mess,” he said.
“Usually I’m fighting for development. But this is not development. If you think cutting down trees makes C02 for energy then you’d be wrong.”
On Friday the state government declared the Kidston wind farm south west of Cairns a project of economic and social significance.
Acting Premier Steven Miles said when completed, the Kidston Clean Energy Hub would further strengthen the reliability of North Queensland’s energy grid.
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