North Queensland wind farm gets approval

The following item comes from The Cairns Post, journalist: Tony Stickley

Tablelands Regional Council approves $90m wind farm

Tablelands Regional Council yesterday gave permission for a new $90 million wind farm at Evelyn near Ravenshoe – but with stringent conditions.

Councillors approved an application by operator Transfield Services to build 17 turbines on the site at Tumoulin Rd.

Transfield says the turbines – which are 125m in height, equivalent to a 35-storey building – will produce enough electricity to power 15,000 homes and reduce the carbon dioxide output by 25 million tonnes over the lifetime of the project.

Council officers said in a report that the development conflicted with a number of provisions of the planning scheme in relation to noise, light and visual amenity.

But they said conflicts could be substantially, though not entirely, mitigated with appropriate conditions.

Councillors imposed a list of conditions to their approval.

Kuranda councillor Jenny Jensen and Deputy Mayor Chris Adams wanted the matter deferred so the effects on people’s health could be further investigated.

But Cr Shaaron Linwood said all the issues were well covered by the conditions being imposed. She said the development would be a “real boost’’ economically for the area.

Cr Len Curtis said the project would be good for the country’s carbon credit ledger.

Cr Rhonda Sorensen, who is a scientist, said there was “conflicting science’’ relating to the effects of wind farms, but they could not hold up the decision while waiting for a scientific conclusion on the issue. She said the council was insisting on some extremely stringent noise abatement requirements.

The project meets the South Australian noise guidelines for wind farms. Queensland does not have specific mandatory noise levels for wind farm operation.

Conditions imposed include requiring Transfield to submit effective noise monitoring, evaluation and response measures to the council before use begins.

Response measures would include the control, turning off or decommissioning of the turbines to alleviate breaches.

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