South Taranaki windfarm proposal generates flood of submissions

Turbines on a windfarm in the Tararua ranges. Trustpower plans to build a windfarm near Waverley in South Taranaki.
Warwick Smith/ Fairfax NZ.

Turbines on a windfarm in the Tararua ranges. Trustpower plans to build a windfarm near Waverley in South Taranaki.

Noise, the death of endangered birds and reduced property values are some of the concerns raised against an application for a new windfarm in South Taranaki.

Trustpower plans to spend $325 million to build a 48-turbine wind farm on coastal land six kilometres southeast of Patea and seven kilometres southwest of Waverley and has applied for a resource consent.

Twenty four submissions were received by the South Taranaki District Council, many of them either against the plan or calling for further consultation. 

The Department of Conservation was concerned about bird strike deaths affecting several species of endangered birds including banded dotterels, pied oyster catchers, pied stilts, shag and little black shags.

READ MORE: Waverley wind farm project rejuvenated

NZ Fish and Game was concerned about the effects on game birds and other submissions, including those from Nga Rauru and Ngati Ruanui, called for further assessment and consultation around the environmental impact.

Some Waverley residents were against the route planned for the transmission line for the power generated by the wind farm, rather than the facility itself.

Other concerns were that planned developments would be adversely affected and one person commented about the effects the noise from the turbines might have on their cows.

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association highlighted the economic benefits to the region through the construction and operation of the wind farm, and the long term benefits to the country's electricity prices and greenhouse gas emissions.

South Taranaki District Council planning manager Blair Sutherland said staff were assessing the submissions to decide if further information was required from Trustpower on any of the matters raised.

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"There are submissions for and against, it's a fairly mixed bag. There are several that support the application and some that oppose it outright. Others are seeking certain conditions if it is approved, and others are only opposing aspects of it."

Sutherland said it was likely the council would have some parts of the application assessed by experts, then eventually the application would go to a hearing and the Environment and Hearings Committee would decide if it was approved or not.

He was unsure how long the process would take.

If consent was granted, market conditions as well as a number of other factors would dictate when the project would commence, Trustpower lead environmental adviser Ryan Piddington said.

However, the project would employ 80 to100 people during the construction and then eight or ten to operate it, Piddington said.

"We are applying for a 10 year lapse period to the consent which would give us 10 years from granting to exercise the consents." 

The proposal for the plant, which would be Taranaki's first wind farm, was first mooted in 2007 when Allco Wind Energy NZ Ltd, subsidiary of Australian investment company, Allco Financial Group announced plans to build one.

In 2009, the project hit a snag when Allco Wind Energy was put into receivership. TrustPower secured development rights in July 2010.

Trustpower operates 38 hydro power stations across 19 hydroelectric power schemes, and two wind farms. 

 - Stuff

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