Residents fear power plant expansion

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 13/07/2012
power stand
ROBERT CHARLES
Allan Rd residents Gordon and Joan Martin are worried about a power station that might be built in their area.

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Residents living near the site of a proposed multimillion-dollar power station south of New Plymouth say they've been kept in the dark about the project.

The Taranaki Daily News revealed yesterday that Bay of Plenty Power, a subsidiary of Todd Corporation, plans to build the 100 megawatt gas-fired peaker plant on a site between Junction and Mangorei roads about seven kilometres south of the city.

Hugh Russell, of Mangorei Rd, said he wasn't aware a power station was going to be built in the area when he bought his home three years ago.

"I'm concerned about the noise and I'm concerned about the visual effect because I will look down on the plant," Mr Russell said.

"They've got a process to go through, with resource consent, so it will be interesting."

Gordon Martin lives on Allan Rd, which runs off Mangorei Rd, and he said the company had been cunning by speaking to affected residents individually rather than as a group.

"They make out that they are telling you everything but they are telling you nothing," Mr Martin said.

He believed the size of the plant would be increased in the future.

"That's not the finish of it either, that is going to go on to be a 200 megawatt station," Mr Martin said.

"There's no guarantees with it; once something goes in, they will try to fix it."

Mr Martin had concerns about air, light and noise pollution from the plant, as well as how it would affect property prices in the area.

Contact Energy already operates a 200MW plant in Stratford, which cost $400 million to build, and Todd has almost completed building a 100MW version alongside its McKee production station inland from Waitara.

Mr Martin said he and his wife, Joan, visited the plant in Stratford about six weeks ago.

"We sat there and listened, and it was bloody noisy," he said.

He said any discharge to the air could potentially contaminate water tanks in the area.

Dianne Sparks, of Allan Rd, said she wasn't happy about the proposed plant.

"The thing is we don't know what's really being proposed," Ms Sparks said.

"The fear that I have is whatever is proposed is going to be added to later, and it's going to be loud and light."

Peaker plants are quick-start power stations that can be called into action during periods of high electricity demand or to provide base load at times of lower hydro and wind-power generation.

Todd Corporation did not respond to questions from the Daily News.

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