Intrusion of turbines 'as severe as it gets'

Last updated 12:00 05/04/2012

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Seven turbines would stand like sentries dominating the Tararua farm house owned by Wayne and Christine Marshall if the Puketoi wind farm is built.

"Quite simply, it appears as if the proposed wind farm is in their front yard," their lawyer, Bruce Gilmour, told commissioners hearing Mighty River Power's applications for resource consent in Pahiatua yesterday.

If allowed, the Marshalls' Towai Rd home would become the closest residence to any wind farm in New Zealand, except for where occupants had a financial interest in the development.

The closest 160-metre tall turbine would be about 950m from the house.

Mighty River Power has offered to buy them out, but they let the offer lapse. The deal would have seen the company buy the farm at 15 per cent above market value, plus $50,000.

Mrs Marshall said it was "completely inadequate and frankly insulting".

She said the couple bought the property, called Rockhaven, nearly a decade ago, had fallen in love with it, and were there for the long haul.

They had explored the market while considering the company's offer, but could not find a property that would suit them and their farming so well.

Mr Gilmour argued that the effects of the wind farm on them were, "as severe as it gets", and so extreme they out-balanced any other concerns, such as whether the wind farm was in the national interest.

Noise, visual intrusion, flashing red lights at night to stop planes crashing into the ridge-top turbines, and a phenomenon called "shadow flicker" would all impact on them daily.

Shadow flicker would happen in the mornings when the sun rose over the ridge and shone through the windows, interrupted by the turn of the rotor arms.

It could be controlled if the turbines were stopped on those mornings.

The Marshalls were not convinced the thump, whoop, boom and rumble of 20 turbines within five kilometres of their home could be controlled.

"It will be like living, working and trying to sleep in an industrial site," Mrs Marshall said.

Mighty River Power had suggested a planting plan on a neighbouring property to establish a shield against the Marshall's view of the turbines.

However, Mrs Marshall said the proposed eucalyptus would not, based on the couple's experience, survive the conditions.

And in any case, trees would also block sunlight and their rural view.

The proposed solution was about as bad as the problem, and would not screen out views of the turbines from parts of the property outside the house, nor diminish the noise, she said.

The Marshalls have asked the commissioners to refuse consent for the wind farm, or at least to exclude the seven turbines closest to their house from the 53-turbine proposal.

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On the second-last day of the hearing, the Waitahora-Puketoi Guardians, who also opposed the now-consented Contact Energy Waitahora wind farm adjoining the Puketoi site, presented evidence against Mighty River Power.

Spokesman Stuart Brown particularly objected to the turbines being built on the ridge line, whereas the Waitahora turbines would be stepped back to be less intrusive.

The guardians had made an Official Information Act request to reveal that the company had rejected the advice of two landscape architects before finding evidence that supported its preferred layout.

The hearing is expected to finish today.

- Manawatu Standard


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