Wind farm applicant lodges appeal

DALVEEN wind farm proponent Tim Lucas has fired the first shot in his legal battle with the Southern Downs Regional Council by lodging his formal appeal with the courts last week.

Court documents show Anderssen Lawyers, acting for Mr Lucas, filed the appeal with the Planning and Environment Court on Thursday of last week.

Mr Lucas is seeking an order from the court that his plan for an eight-turbine wind and solar farm on Rabbit Ridge Rd be approved subject to conditions and that council pay his legal costs.

Councils normally try and negotiate a deal out of court to save time and money and a full-blown court hearing would require both sides to engage expert witnesses at considerable cost.

The controversial proposal sparked intense opposition from nearby landholders, who cited health risks, noise and a loss in property values from the 15 metre wind turbines and their effect on the landscape as key concerns.

Mr Lucas will argue that council's own assessment report concluded there is no evidence of wind farms causing health problems and that no adverse noise would be generated.

The appeal document states that the report by planning director Ken Harris showed "that the proposal would serve the public interest (by) providing greenhouse gas emission-free power, deferring or removing the need to construct additional high voltage powerlines from Stanthorpe to Warwick and would act as a tourist attraction".

But councillors disagreed, saying the wind farm was not in line with council's strategic direction and would set a precedent for "high impact renewable energy development in comparatively densely settled rural areas".

Councillors also decided the amenity of the surrounding area could not be suitably protected and buffered from the potential impacts of the wind farm.

Mr Lucas' lawyers state in the appeal document that council's reasons for refusal were "without merit, erroneous and are the product of it acting unreasonably in the assessment of his application".

The legal process could last a year or more due to protracted and complex negotiations and backlogs in the court system.

Stanthorpe Border Post

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