Debate continues over Cooranga North wind farm

Cyril Stewart, president Coopers Gap Wind Farm Supporters Group, and dog Bonnie, on his property near Cooranga North, 650m from a proposed turbine.

Photo Gen Kennedy / Dalby Herald
Cyril Stewart, president Coopers Gap Wind Farm Supporters Group, and dog Bonnie, on his property near Cooranga North, 650m from a proposed turbine. Photo Gen Kennedy / Dalby Herald

HE DOESN'T have the typical greenie look.

But cattle farmer Cyril Stewart is right behind a "clean, green" proposed wind farm in Cooranga North.

The grazier is president of the 400-strong Coopers Gap Wind Farm Supporters Group, and said "misinformation" had been rife in the debate, which has split the Cooranga North community.

Protest groups have been arguing that noise and health concerns outweigh any economic benefits the project could bring.

Mr Stewart, who would have a turbine 650m from his house if the project went ahead, said 17 international studies had found no link between health problems and wind farms.

"The host farmers are going to be the closest to any towers, so if there's health problems, or problems with any noise, we're going to suffer the most," Mr Stewart said.

"We don't consider ourselves to be that silly that we would bring it upon ourselves.

"The landholders who are getting turbines will get an income during droughts. An opportunity to do that to a farm doesn't come along very often in anyone's lifetime."

Mr Stewart admitted that landholders next to the turbines would not have the same benefits as host farmers, but said the benefits to the wider community were clear.

"There's six permanent jobs, which means there'll be six more people employed in the district," he said.

"They'll be spending money at the local store; their kids will be going on the local bus. During construction, there'll be many jobs.

"It'll inject a lot of money into the community - even Dalby and Kingaroy, Jandowae, Chinchilla - all those places will benefit in the initial stages, and in the later stages, I do think that it would probably start a little bit of tourism trade."

However, Cooranga North Concerned Citizens Group spokesman Bryan Lyons said acoustic consultants engaged by the group informed them that the proposed wind farm would exceed the current Queensland noise policy by a "significant amount".

Mr Lyons declined a phone interview, but said in a statement that AGL's comparisons of noise levels created by the turbines with quiet libraries was "unrealistic". The project has been cut down from its original planned size due to resident concerns.

Material from energy company AGL, developing the project, said the proposed installed capacity of the wind farm would be about 350MW, to be installed in two stages.

The wind farm would include 115 wind turbines across 11 properties.

"To provide an indication of typical noise levels, two people can comfortably stand directly under a turbine and have a conversation without raising their voices," the website FAQ section said.

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