A second swath of public land is set to be protected from wind farm development, as Greater Wellington regional council struggles to balance a commitment to green energy with the interests of park users.
The council has moved to ban turbines from Battle Hill Regional Park near Pauatahanui, park land that was once part of a major wind farm proposal.
The rule change which is included in a revised draft of the park's management plan comes just five months after the council revoked permission for RES New Zealand to build three turbines in the park as part of a larger wind farm project.
It also follows moves by the council to block development in nearby Belmont Regional Park, with a council committee last year recommending a five-year moratorium on turbines there.
The Belmont park proposal included up to 81 turbines and had a price tag of between $117 million and $138 million five years ago.
The council once described the site as a "world-class wind farm opportunity".
Councillor Rex Kirton, chairman of the regional council's parks, forests and utilities committee, said turbine development in regional parks needed to be debated, and he suggested parks could be made out of bounds for wind farms.
"Maybe people aren't too keen to have it in the parks at all," he said.
"There are other areas and there will be other private land that will be able to be used. Maybe it's not on our particular land."
Mr Kirton expects wind farm development to be a hot issue as the regional council consults the public on the future of all its parks. "It's a discussion that needs to take place."
Engineering services manager Tony Shaw said the council remained committed to sustainable energy but deemed Battle Hill worthy of protection.
"There will be no turbines sited in the park itself," he said. "It's a case of balancing use of the land with the need or desire to generate renewable energy, and in this instance council decided it would restrict the use of turbines."
The council remains committed to a wind farm at Puketiro forest, which is public land near Battle Hill. Resource consent applications for up to 50 turbines are expected later this year. It is also investigating another project on council land near Stoney Creek, in south Wairarapa.
The Battle Hill management plan allows access through the park to the Puketiro wind farm. It also allows the use of air space for wind-turbine blade flyover.
Diane Strugnell, spokeswoman for Preserve Pauatahanui, said wind farms should not be developed on park land. "I don't think it's their job to put them in places that have been set aside for other purposes."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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