Mt Emerald: Tablelands Regional Council Puts People & Environment Before Proposed Wind Farm Disaster

Mt Emerald Steve Lavis & Shane Knuth

Steve Lavis, Spokesperson Tablelands Wind Turbine Action (left)
& Shane Knuth, KAP Member for Dalrymple (right)

****

Kempton accuses Tableland Regional Council of wind farm ‘hostility’
The Cairns Post
Daniel Bateman
28 November 2014

Tablelands Regional Council has been accused of being “openly hostile” towards a controversial wind farm project and trying everything to impede its progress.

THE Tablelands Regional Council has been accused of being “openly hostile” towards a controversial wind farm project and trying everything to impede its progress.

It comes as the Senate launches an inquiry into the effectiveness of wind turbines, scrutinising their regulatory governance and economic impact.

The $380 million project to be built near Walkamin is to include up to 75 turbines.

It is a joint venture by property developers Port Bajool and power producers Ratch Australia.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney called in the development application in June, taking responsibility to assess it away from the Mareeba Shire Council, which de-amalgamated from the Tablelands Regional Council.

Mr Seeney has promised not to make a decision over the Mt Emerald Wind Farm until he meets with residents at this weekend’s Community Cabinet in Mareeba.

In an email obtained by The Cairns Post, Cook MP David Kempton responded to claims his government had ignored residents’ concerns about the wind farm, assuring there had been a full and proper investigation of the project.

“The Tablelands Regional Council has been openly hostile to this project from the outset,’’ he said.

“I have given full personal support to this project as I believe the regional benefits will far out-weight the perceived and in many cases, misguided information.

“I can also assure you I have received many delegations from the opponents over the time since this project was mooted.”

When questioned about the email by The Cairns Post, Mr Kempton only offered the following statement:

“The (wind farm) is being determined by the Deputy Premier and I have confidence there will be proper and rigorous process around the determination,” he said.

Tableland Division 6 Councillor Marjorie Pagani said the council had legitimately raised a number of concerns about the development when the application first came to the council, and there had been no vote taken on it.

“What he is interpreting as open hostility was in fact a series of requisition questions sent by our planning department to the developer, which were never answered,’’ he said.

“There were pages and pages of very significant and important questions relating to planning, roads, noise, environmental/ecological issues, and even size of turbines, for example.

“They hadn’t even put the size of their proposed development, or the size of each turbine.”

Tableland Mayor Rosa Lee Long, in a statement, said since the Mareeba Shire Council had taken over the application after de-amalgamation, TRC continued to have concerns, including the potential impact of heavy vehicles on local roads during the construction process.

Meanwhile, the Senate has launched an inquiry into the regulatory governance and economic impact of wind turbines.

The inquiry, a first in Australia, will examine issues such as impact on household electricity prices, the role of the Clean Energy Regulator, effect on fauna, planning processes, and whole-of-life CO2 inputs and outputs.
The Cairns Post

david kempton

David Kempton (centre) nuzzles up to Mt Emerald Wind Farm’s (hopeful)
developer John Morris (2nd from left) in the “lovely” patterned shirt.

****

David Kempton isn’t afraid to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds – in politics there’s always mileage to be won by pretending to be on both sides of a debate.

But, in the end, a politician’s true sympathies tend to swing towards the people ready to “grease the wheels”.

Kempton took up the cudgels for the (hopeful) developer of the Mt Emerald wind farm, John Morris (Port Bajool Pty Ltd), long ago – despite the fact that Mt Emerald isn’t even in Kempton’s electorate. Talk about going above and beyond the call of “duty”.

Kempton’s very “cosy” relationship with John Morris includes benefiting from the developer’s first class “largesse” – free 1st class dining and luxury accommodation at one of Morris’ resorts among the (undeclared) gifts merrily soaked up by Kempton. Their, no doubt, businesslike relationship has generated more than just a little political heat for Kempton (see this blistering article from the Sydney Morning Herald on just how friendly Kempton and Morris have become).

David Kempton’s championing of the great wind power fraud – barracking for his white-shoed developer mates over local residents, as well as common sense and reason – (such as what happens when wind power output completely collapses hundreds of times each year (see our post here)? And why – if wind power is SO competitive with conventional generators – does it need $billions in subsidies filched from power consumers via the REC Tax? – see our posts here and here) – is precisely the reason why the Senate select committee was set up to turn a blowtorch on this whole rotten stinking mess, and especially:

(d) the implementation of planning processes in relation to wind farms, including the level of information available to prospective wind farm hosts;

(e) the adequacy of monitoring and compliance governance of wind farms;

(f) the application and integrity of national wind farm guidelines;

(g) the effect that wind towers have on fauna and aerial operations around turbines, including firefighting and crop management;

For more on the inquiry – see our post here.

STT can’t let Kempton’s drivel about receiving “many delegations from the opponents over the time since this project was mooted”.

Making a “delegation” to Kempton would be pretty hard for the dozens of people who (quite reasonably) oppose the project – but who were stitched up long ago with bullet proof gag clauses by the company in on the joint venture to destroy Mt Emerald – that prevent them from making ANY adverse comment about the project at all.

The gag clause applies to anyone who purchased adjacent land to the development from the developer – and appears in the extract below from the “Contracts for Sale” for properties at Oaky Creek Farms, Mutchilba (Queensland, Australia).

These properties have been (and are being) sold by Port Bajool Pty Ltd. Port Bajool Pty Ltd is the owner of the property (situated on Mt Emerald) – on which RATCH (aka RACL, a subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest power producer) is planning to construct a 63 turbine wind farm (aka the High Road Wind Farm) – and Port Bajool Pty Ltd is also a partner with RATCH in the $2.00 company, Mt Emerald Wind Farm Pty Ltd. The properties at Oaky Creek Farms are all within a 5km radius of proposed turbines, as identified on RATCH’s “Surrounding Residences” map.

Here’s the offending clause:

No Objection to Wind Farm

The Vendor discloses that certain feasibility studies (including geotechnical surveys and construction and operation of monitoring equipment) and a development application or procedure have been or may be made in respect to the use or development of Lot 7 SP235244 for construction of wind electricity power generation (by means of a connected group of wind turbine generators, together with associated electrical infrastructure and connection equipment). The Purchaser must not object to any application or procedure made or initiated by or on behalf of the Vendor or a third party in respect of any use or development of Lot 7 SP235244. The Purchaser acknowledges that the Purchaser will not be materially prejudiced by the development or use of Lot 7 SP 235244 as a “wind farm” for the generation of electrical power.

The clause is pretty straightforward – a purchaser of land from the joint-developer of the wind farm signs away any right to object to any application or procedure made in respect of any use or development on the site of the proposed wind farm: Lot 7 SP235244.

The purchaser also effectively signs away their private law rights (such as nuisance or negligence caused by wind turbine noise, say) by acknowledging that they “will not be materially prejudiced by the development or use” of the site “as a “wind farm” for the generation of electrical power.”

The purchaser’s agreement not to object to any application or procedure made by the developer in respect of any use of the site – combined with the acknowledgement that the purchaser “will not be materially prejudiced by the development or use” of the site as a wind farm – can be fairly described as a “gag clause”. While there are much tougher versions around, this one is probably tough enough for the developer’s purposes (see our post here).

In practical effect, the purchaser would not be entitled to raise any objection to the wind farm at all. To object would be a breach of the Contract for Sale; and an objection would include any negative or disparaging statement made about the use or operation of the site as a wind farm. This would not be limited to statements made during the planning process, but would extend to cover any application or procedure made by the developer during the life of the wind farm.

Moreover, should the purchaser take action (including legal action) in relation to any complaint concerning negative impacts caused by the operation of the wind farm, the purchaser will breach that part of the clause that acknowledges that they “will not be materially prejudiced by the development or use” of the site as a wind farm. Were the purchaser to make their complaint to the press, for example, the developer may also assert that this breaches that same acknowledgement; and would, therefore, constitute a breach of contract.

Whichever way you slice it, the clause is Draconian. And, if wind farms make such wonderful neighbours, obviously unnecessary, surely? A point well made by John “Marshall” Madigan in this post.

But don’t just take our word for it, the Tablelands Regional Council received legal advice (click here for the advice) in relation to the Ratch’s High Road Wind Farm development. In apparent response to the clause set out above (and clauses like it) the advice was as follows (see page 18):

We do recommend that Council make HRWF (High Road Wind Farm) aware that in conducting any negotiations they couldn’t stifle comments from residents who are likely to be affected. The Court [in Bunnings Building Supplies Pty Ltd v Redland Shire Council and Ors [2000] QPELR 193, paras [30] and [32]] has warned:

“The Council should have the opportunity to assess the application in the light of the informed attitude of interested parties, especially local residents and most especially those living closest to the site who would mostly be affected. That informed attitude may well be perverted by a developer who uses the cheque book … In this case the cheque book approach to potential submitters has not affected the merits of the various arguments on the disputed issues. I take the opportunity, however, to deplore it in the strongest terms. Should this approach manifest itself in other application, the Court will have to examine the ramifications in detail. Could it have the effect of vitiating the public notification stage, requiring re-notification? Might it amount to an abuse of process?”

We note that the [noise] Standard recommends that a regulatory authority set criteria that is flexible to account for existing agreements between landowners. We do not agree with this approach.

So, far from being an open, democratic process (as wildly claimed by David Kempton) a fair slice of the local community have not had – and will never have – the opportunity to (lawfully) object to the project at all.

When first fronted a while back about the gag clauses involved, Kempton – not afraid to call “night” “day” if it’ll help his developer mates – came out with this piece of sophistry:

“There’s no gag order. I reckon (opponents) are playing with that to try and make it look like (the developer) is something he isn’t.”

Right …

If Kempton has read the clause in question, he clearly hasn’t understood it. Fair enough – plain English can be hard.

But the bigger hypocrisy attached to Kempton’s efforts to support the unsupportable, is his implicit claim to give a fig about what nearly 92% of locals actually think about the project. What’s that say about there being none so deaf as those who will not hear?

Mt Emerald Summary

The battle to prevent RATCH from getting planning approval for the disaster it proposes for Mount Emerald reached fever pitch some time ago (see our post here).

Back in August, furious locals produced a community petition and survey that shows the depth of opposition to the project and the manner in which the developer has ridden roughshod over a peaceful and thriving community. The survey shows 91.7% of locals are opposed to the project. The petition against the wind farm was signed by 1,000 of them. No surprises there.

The survey is available here.

Katter Australia Party State Member for Dalrymple, Shane Knuth – taking up the cudgels on behalf of his constituents – tabled the community petition and survey results in Queensland Parliament and delivered a cracking speech (see our post here).

STT Champion Shane Knuth and his leader, Bob Katter put out this press release yesterday.

Community urged to have their say on Mt Emerald wind farm project
Katter Australia Party
28 November 2014

KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter together with State Member for Dalrymple Shane Knuth have today urged the Tablelands community to attend the Mareeba Community Cabinet Meeting on Sunday to demand that the Deputy Premier reject the Mt Emerald wind farm project.

Mr Knuth said today that the massive wind farm project would deliver very little in the way of power generation to the area, whilst any profits would go back to Thailand.

“It is proposed to spend $550 million on this massive wind farm project, when the Tully Hydro scheme has already started, with $80 million spent on the tunnels for that project, which will produce 19 times more power.

“Wouldn’t that be a more viable option that would create thousands of jobs and breathe life into the Atherton Tablelands?

“The Tully Hydro would provide reliable power indefinitely and we would not have to worry about transmission costs from the south, at almost the same cost as these wind farms.

“The Minister is aware that these massive wind farm schemes, that deliver little power, put great pressure on our electricity bills. In reality, you need to get money for dollar,” Mr Knuth said.

Mr Katter said the scheme signalled torture for the residents who lived close to the proposed wind farms.

“There is no doubt that the noise will be a huge problem for the people living even remotely close to the wind farms. It will sterilise all of that area for development.

“Wind farms employ virtually no people. There are two or three businesses that I know of that will shift out of the Mareeba area if the wind farms go ahead. Without indicating what those businesses are, we’ll be losing more jobs than we’re getting.

“I’m no greenie, but there will be a 20 kilometre barrier that all the coastal birds can’t fly through. That seems to me to be going too far.

“There’s a desperate effort by the government to get all their gifts in place to their political backers before the election, this is another one of those,” Mr Katter said.

The primary concerns of the wind farms include the possible impacts to the health of residents nearby, environmental impacts and the economic and social impacts of such a large scale development.

The proposed wind farm will be constructed with approximately 75 turbines in the centre of prime agricultural land that is surrounded by the residential properties of several families.

Community Cabinet Meeting will be held on Sunday, 30 November 2014 from 3pm to 5pm at Mareeba International Club, Vaughan Street, Mareeba.

Katter Australia Party

STT predicts that the meeting will be overflowing with locals dead set on canning a disaster in the making. Although we strongly doubt that David Kempton and his mate John Morris will be anywhere to be seen.

Bob_Katter_130902_AAP

Bob Katter: ready to take it up to
David Kempton and his white-shoe brigade.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. June 19 2015
    Conservative Government bringing the wind farm folly to an end.
    Yesterday the British Government made two announcements that signal the end to on-shore wind farms in locations where they are not supported by people who live there. The announcements were:

    1. The Government will close the Renewables Obligation across Great Britain to new onshore wind generating stations from 1 April 2016.

    2. Changes to planning so that residents have “the final say” over onshore wind farm applications – meaning that turbines cannot continue to be “imposed on communities” who do not want them.

  2. The majority of people that lean towards the fans know nothing about the noise, health, and the expense, let alone the criminal torture of neighbours in their homes from the infrasound and low frequency noise.

  3. Jim Hutson says:

    As the Gullen Range Industrial Wind complex starts to come into full operation, so do the consequences. Off course these consequences are of no surprise to those of us who have studied and have been fighting the Industrial Wind Industry over a long period of time. However we are now hearing from those who just wouldn’t listen, we are starting to observe the abandoned houses, hearing of owners who cannot live in their homes, people complaining that they are becoming sick with all the known symptom’s, and with, hatred and bitterness growing daily towards those who sold them out by aligning themselves with the Wind Industry, and to the wind turbine hosts, who not only sold themselves out for a pittance and in doing so stuffed the plans and aspirations of their neighbours and rendered their neighbours’ properties unsaleable
    Now, due to human nature, when the pressure comes on the rats start squealing, and guess what, we are starting to hear that some of the local wind turbine hosts are complaining about the noise, and family members becoming sick and wishing that they had never signed up to this monumental fraud.
    So what’s the word from those of us that have had their lives stuffed by them, “it’s sucked in” absolutely no sympathy, live with the consequences like the rest of us, only difference is we get up in the morning and fight another day for what is right, you made the mistake, and it will get you down and whilst you jingle your 30 pieces of silver it will never ever compensate you for what you have done.
    Congratulations to the Tablelands Regional Council for taking a stand, obviously the district is very fortunate to have a Council with integrity and intelligence.
    Lastly, when the “Wind Industry” comes to town it will change your lives in a very negative way and it will never recover. The consequences and memories of this disaster will live long after some of us have gone to our maker and the wind turbines are unceremoniously torn down. Human nature being what it is.

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      Jim,
      You have put so succinctly that which I have attempted, perhaps with less profanity, perhaps less anger.

      I admire and recognise the commonality that we all have.
      Thank you for your ongoing contribution to this argument.

      One day we will all come together and celebrate our win against the largest confidence trick that has ever been perpetrated against the good citizens of Australia, let alone the rest of the world, as we understand it.

  4. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Maybe I am wrong but doesn’t this set off warning lights about overseas ownership of Australian land. If companies come here and buy up large tracks of land, then decide to sell some of it off – parts they don’t want to use for industrialising our rural regions, then writing into any contract of sale a ‘gag’ clause as above does it not indicate they not only want to own land they also want to remove the right of those living adjacent to object to what they do on the section of land they want to retain. Thus side-stepping planning regulations which are designed to protect neighbours from harm.
    Are these companies re-writing our democracy to suit their own needs?
    What’s to stop Chinese companies who are purchasing large tracks of dairy and arable land, from using it to erect turbines or mine at will. No longer will they have to pay-off landowners to be able to erect or drill, they will already own it.

  5. Corruption in Queensland, with a mob called Ratshit? This example of the wind ‘industry’ greasing of palms and systemic corruption makes the Joh Bjelke Peterson era look like Mother Theresa in comparison.

    Nothing less than a Royal Commission will get to the bottom of these corporate rodent’s abuse of citizens, gagging of free speech, data fudging and rorting of government funding.

  6. David Mortimer says:

    If a council strongly believes that a development proposal is going to have a serious adverse impact upon its constituents, then it has every right to display open hostility toward it.

    After all, the wind industry certainly does not play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules !

  7. stand against wind says:

    Why should Tableland residents be treated like second class citizens so that people living in cities like Brisbane get an unwarranted warm inner glow thinking they are combating climate change? It’s time for the Newman Government to realise the policy environment has moved on. There is no need to subject rural communities to these monstrous wind turbines, and to subject all Queenslanders to higher electricity prices.

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