Hidden Australian documents detail risk, no environmental benefit to wind power
The Queensland Government’s own noise expert has warned proposed rules for wind farms in the State could cause public health and environment problems.
Bryan Lyons, spokesman for the community-based Wind Energy Queensland (WEQ) group, said today the warnings were revealed in documents obtained under a Right To Information (RTI) search.
“These documents show that warnings from the Queensland Government’s own noise expert were hidden from the relevant Minister and from the public,” Mr Lyons said.
“The expert report reveals that the proposed Queensland Government Wind Farm Code (version 2) will not protect residents’ health and wellbeing and will not protect their environmental values.
“The documents obtained under RTI also reveal these concerns were not passed on to the Planning Department or the Minister for Planning.”
Mr Lyons said the documents show that, on August 26, the noise expert in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provided his superiors with a list of nine points of concern regarding the draft Wind Farm Code.
“Those concerns were not subsequently forwarded from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, who have developed the current draft (version 2) of the Wind Farm Code.
“The concerns raised by the Queensland Government’s own noise expert confirm existing advice that independent noise experts conducting research in this area have already provided to courts, governments, Senate inquiries and community members dealing with wind farm proposals across Queensland.”
Mr Lyons said the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection had withheld the expert report.
“Wind Energy Queensland have previously asked Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to seek advice from her own Government noise expert. It is now clear from these documents that concerns were deliberately withheld by the department of Environment and Heritage Protection. A Senior Official from the Environment and Heritage Protection Department advised the Premier’s Department that they have ‘no fundamental concerns’ with the draft Wind Farm Code.
“However, the advice from the Noise Expert indicates that proposed wind farm standards in Queensland will not protect the health and wellbeing of our communities. It is extremely disturbing that this advice appears to have been kept secret from the Government department developing the Wind Farm Code, kept secret from the Minister for Planning, and kept hidden from the public.
“We are calling on the Deputy Premier to have the noise sections of the Wind Farm Code redrafted by Noise Experts in the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and scrutinised by an independent panel of Noise Experts, with those peer reviews made publicly available.
“This newly-revealed advice from the EHP Noise Expert also affects the recently approved Mt Emerald Wind Farm on the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland,” Mr Lyons said. “We believe the Mt Emerald approval is presently being renegotiated by the applicant, and we call on the Deputy Premier to take this opportunity to immediately amend the approval.”
Mr Lyons said the Government noise expert’s concerns confirm the concerns of residents in the Mt Emerald area that, if developed, the proposed wind farm will harm their community members even if it complies with the conditions of approval.
WEQ is a community-based group formed to ensure better planning of wind farms in Queensland. The communities represented include Dalveen, Crows Nest, Cooranga north (west of Kingaroy) and Mareeba.