Wind farm shuts forest for two years
A Wellington forest used by walkers will be closed for 30 months while a 26-turbine wind farm is built - but an alternative walkway will be made.
The forest's closure is to make room for construction and access to the Mill Creek wind farm, between Ohariu Valley and Wellington's west coast.
Construction will see Spicer Forest - adjacent to the Spicer Landfill - closed to the public until December 2014. Te Araroa national walkway, which runs through the forest, will be relocated so it can remain open to the public during construction.
When finished in 30 months, the farm will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 30,000 homes.
Meridian Energy today announced it was starting work on Monday.
The closure was part of a consent condition that all construction vehicles must access the wind farm site through the forest.
A company spokeswoman said the 73 hectare forest was mainly used for walking.
Meridian project manager Chris Jones said the closure was a safety precaution.
Meridian would harvest about two hectares of the 73 hectares of forest to develop the wind farm access route.
Meridian has had consent to build the wind farm from Wellington and Porirua City Councils and Wellington Regional Council since 2009.
However, this was appealed to the Environment Court, which last year approved the consent but reduced the number of turbines from 31 to 26.
Spicer Forest is a 1980s pine plantation that had been scheduled for logging in 2016.
However, last year it was reported that under the Emissions Trading Scheme deforestation could cost $1.6 million for the carbon lost and it was suggested it become a recreational space.
The Dominion Post