Tablelands residents have accused the developer of a wind farm of destroying part of a mountain for the $380 million project and turning it into an “eyesore”.
Construction is underway on Ratch Australia’s Mt Emerald Wind Farm which, once completed, will bring 53 giant turbines to the high elevation site, 5km west of Walkamin.
However, nearby residents claim rock blasting and vegetation clearing at the mountain has left scars on the terrain, which are noticeable from several kilometres away.
“There’s just total devastation,” said Walkamin resident Jenny Disley.
“If we get big rain shortly, they’ll lose all the stuff from the road, which has already been pushed over the edge and fallen down, probably 200m.
“It could well end up in lovely waterways, and waterfalls – it’s all loose rock above that. We fear for the watercourses, we fear for the quolls, and it’s an absolute visual eyesore.”
Another resident, Krista Watkins, who with husband Rob own Natural Evolution Foods producing banana flour, recently returned from a trip to Japan where they promoted their business.
Mrs Watkins said they felt embarrassed to be confronted by the changes to the mountain after telling a Japanese audience how well Far North Queenslanders looked after the environment.
“We stopped on the highway and took photos, because it’s absolute environmental vandalism,” she said.
Ratch Australia’s Anthony Yeates said the wind farm had a large team of people on site to ensure a very high level of environmental protection. “By the end of construction, an extensive rehabilitation and revegetation program will ensure our environmental footprint is very small,” he said.
“Less than 3 per cent of the total site will be used.
“We’re proud of the approach we’re taking. We are carefully relocating plants as required and collecting seeds on the site for replanting once the works are finished.