Wind farm idea off table as liquidators 'surrender' consent

BY GRANT MILLER
Last updated 12:00 25/08/2009

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Motorimu Wind Farm has officially been scrapped.

Liquidators for the company have "surrendered" its resource consent to Palmerston North City Council, ending any prospect of the 80-turbine farm near Tokomaru being built.

Scrapping the farm came after a deal was struck between the liquidators and Mighty River Power, which wants to build a 121-turbine farm at nearby Turitea.

The surrender of the consent yesterday came as a board of inquiry hearing resumed on whether or not the Turitea proposal near Palmerston North should be allowed to proceed.

The board could now be certain it need not take into account possible cumulative visual effects from both projects going ahead, Mighty River Power projects development manager Stuart McDonnell said.

"Having the Motorimu consents relinquished removes that possibility completely," he said.

Mighty River Power wouldn't say what the deal was worth.

If Turitea proceeds, it will mean an extension of turbines in the Tararua Ranges, rather than filling a gap between the Te Rere Hau farm east of Palmerston North and Motorimu.

Turbines further south remain a possibility, however, as Horowhenua Energy proposes a small farm 6 kilometres southeast of Tokomaru, though it hasn't yet applied for consent.

Mighty River Power had argued at the hearing that Motorimu was unlikely to go ahead.

Motorimu initially sought consent for 127 turbines, but just 75 were permitted, increasing to 80 last year.

The company went into liquidation earlier this month.

The consent cancellation followed evidence by Mighty River Power expert witness Stephen Brown that, if Motorimu went ahead, he would not support the Turitea proposal because of concerns about cumulative visual effects.

Mr Brown's assessment was "not the reason" Mighty River Power secured the deal with Motorimu's liquidators, an MRP spokesman said.

Landscape expert for Palmerston North City Council, Clive Anstey, said at the hearing yesterday cumulative effects remained an issue.

He was also worried about the prominence of proposed turbines for nearby residents and was against the landscape overall.

The turbines could be 125 metres tall.

"I don't think these hills are of sufficient scale to easily absorb turbines of that size," he said.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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