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Farmers plan to put wind to good use

Last updated 12:17 15/01/2009

Wind development company Energy3 Ltd and farmers Carole and Nick Webby have applied for consent to construct up to three turbines up to 75 metres high on the Webbys' Weld Cone farm, 3 kilometres southeast of Ward. However, depending on the brand used, the turbines were more likely to be only about 40m high, Mrs Webby said.

The prevailing wind on the couple's 640-hectare sheep-and-beef farm blows from the northwest at about 10m a second. Tests indicate the turbines would provide enough electricity to power 600 homes a year.

"I think the turbines are brilliant. It's totally renewable energy and it's not hurting anyone in any way," Mrs Webby said.

Energy3 Ltd representatives approached her and her husband about six months ago and they agreed on a partnership.

Energy3 is a wind-development company with four directors, which was set up in 2005. It has one wind turbine running at Southbridge near Christchurch and sells the electricity to the Orion distribution network.

The Marlborough turbine site is 2km from the nearest home, and the application by the Webbys argued that noise was unlikely to arise during construction or operation. It also said the physical and ecological effects were rated as minor. The turbines will be visible from parts of State Highway 1 heading south.

Mrs Webby said the neighbours had been very supportive. "It's not a big, intrusive thing. It's a small development that's going to really add to our farm."

In 2006, TrustPower dropped plans it was considering for three potential wind-farm sites in Seddon, which would have cost $250 million, citing rising costs, poor wind conditions and the price of sending power to the North Island.

Energy3 director and Awatere Valley vineyard owner Warren McNabb said the TrustPower project was on a different scale altogether. It was unlikely that large areas of land would be developed for wind turbines in Marlborough because the region had limited high wind sites. The Webbys' farm featured strong winds and good road access, and was close to existing power lines.

Two parties have opposed the submission: the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the Marlborough Environment Centre.

Marlborough Environment Centre representative Steffan Browning said the centre wanted to ensure that any consent granted would require independent investigations into the turbines' impacts. The resource consent process made it necessary for the centre to oppose the application, so that it could be heard at a potential hearing.

The application is being processed by the Marlborough District Council.

Marlborough Lines operations manager Brian Tapp said Marlborough Lines had had discussions with the Webbys and Energy3 about the electricity their turbines would generate.

Marlborough Lines was aware of five or six proposals for wind turbines on the East Coast , Mr Tapp said.

- The Marlborough Express

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