Missing zones on council maps cited as residents look to challenge wind farm consents
Residents in a small Taranaki town are gearing up to fight plans to build a line of 14 metre electricity pylons near their homes.
Last week an independent commission granted Tararua Wind Power Ltd resource consents to build a 48-turbine wind farm on the coast near Waverley, including the electricity transmission line.
The group of residents, which includes retired lawyer Robert Hayes, are not opposed to the wind farm itself, they just want the company to run its transmission line underground where it traversed Fookes and Swinburne Streets on the edge of Waverley.
And the group, led by Hayes, believe they have found a loop hole in council documents that could help their cause.
A mistake in the South Taranaki District Council's 2015 proposed district plan document and maps means the zoning of all the urban roads in the district was not stated, Hayes said.
When he read the council's 2015 plan, Hayes discovered all urban streets in towns around the district, including Hawera, were coloured the same on the maps and there was nothing to denote any zonings.
"My argument is that Swinburne and Fookes Streets are not zoned rural under the 2015 District Plan; no roads have been zoned, it is impossible to ascertain the zoning from the relevant documents."
If the streets were zoned residential it was more likely the lines would have needed to be buried but if marked rural they could be run along pylons.
Hayes is awaiting expert legal advice from a lawyer experienced in resource management law on whether the group of residents he was spokesperson for had a reasonable basis to pursue an appeal through the environment court.
The residents have until July 27 to lodge their appeal with the environment court.
South Taranaki District Council planning manager Blair Sutherland said the council was made aware of the issue with the maps by Hayes.
He said the transmission lines would have required a resource consent whether the area was zoned residential or rural.
However, to get consent for the lines in a residential area would have been more difficult.
"The transmission line would not meet the requirements for a permitted activity in either the 2004 or 2015 District Plans. The zoning of the route for the transmission line has not been changed. I don't believe it will affect the wind farm application. That the application that has been granted supports this view."
When the 2015 District Plan maps were drafted the zoning of roads was removed from the maps to make them easier to read, he said.
"This has created an ambiguity where it is harder to determine the zoning of road reserves than it was in the 2004 plan. At this stage we are still looking at ways to provide more clarity so we don't know whether a solution would involve public consultation."
The project in some form or another has already taken 10 years to get this far.