A WIND farm with the potential to power 75,000 homes a year and create up to 200 construction jobs on the Atherton Tablelands has received State Government approval with strict conditions to address community concerns.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad said her decision to approve the development application for the Mount Emerald Wind Farm, south of Mareeba, would help secure Far North Queensland's future.
"Our government promised to grow the renewable energy industry across the state and this project is aligned with the Far North Queensland Regional Plan 2009-2031 energy objective," Ms Trad said.
The Mount Emerald Wind Farm will have the capacity to generate 225 megawatts (MW) of electricity, or 500,000MW hours of renewable energy each year, with the potential to power around 75,000 homes for over 20 years.
"This project will employ up to 200 workers over a two-year construction period, with ongoing employment for up to 15 local workers over the life of the wind farm. This will generate direct and indirect economic benefits to the local, regional, and national economies," Ms Trad said.
The proposed development was called in on 11 June 2014 following a request from Mareeba Shire Council.
Ms Trad said her department conducted a comprehensive assessment of the development application, including consultation with a number of government agencies and independent consultants regarding key issues raised by the community.
"I have listened first-hand to the community's concerns regarding the proposed development, particularly in relation to potential noise, traffic and environmental issues," Ms Trad said.
"As part of the approval, the State requires the proponent, Mount Emerald Wind Farm Pty Ltd, to comply with a number of strict conditions, including daytime and night time noise limits which are equal to, or better than, standards in other states like Victoria and South Australia."
According to the Minister, the approval also includes a condition requiring all turbines to be located at least 1.5 kilometres from any existing dwelling, which is consistent with current advice from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Chief Health Officer.
"The applicant is also required to submit detailed traffic and environment management plans for approval prior to construction commencing. This will ensure my department can be satisfied that these important issues have been appropriately managed as part of the development process," she said.
The approval also includes conditions requiring the applicant to undertake community consultation prior, during and post construction to ensure any community concerns are addressed, as well as the establishment of a hotline and complaints register to ensure any community concerns are appropriately managed
The project is subject to obtaining further relevant approvals, including from the Federal Environment Minister for matters under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1990.
The wind farm is a joint venture between Racht Australia and Port Bajool Pty Ltd.
More information is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning website at <http://www.dilgp.qld.gov.au/mtemeraldwindfarm/>.