District plan puts wind up farmer

By Lawrence Gullery

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A Hawke's Bay high-country farmer believes extra protection proposed for Te Waka Range will deter any future chances of converting parts of the remote property into a productive wind farm.

Perry King said Te Waka Range, the major mountain between Napier and Taupo, was cold, isolated, windy and was only suitable for low intensity sheep and cattle farming. Plantation projects above the natural tree line had failed.

His was one of four families who farmed Te Waka Range, which had been tagged as a proposed Outstanding Natural Landscape in the draft Hastings District Plan, offering it a higher level of protection from development.

Mr Perry presented his case to the working party reviewing the draft district plan at Hastings District Council this week. He opposed the new protection level over the mountain because it could reduce the ability to look at alternative uses , such as wind farms.

"Te Waka Range's most suitable and sensible land use is wind farming. Why would the council make it even more difficult to build a wind farm on this land?

"In the future we may have electricity deficits that could be filled by this very site, one of the very few sites in the Hastings District Council area."

Mr Perry said he believed the Resource Management Act provided enough rules and regulations to protect the range.

The range had been the subject of a wind farm proposal by Unison in 2006/07 but it was declined in the Environment Court.

Mr Perry said his view of the court decision suggested the reason it was declined came down to "Maori concerns" and "landscape issues" which were the opinions of a small group not connected to Te Waka.

There was little weight given to what landowners wanted to see happen on the range.

"I am asking you to stop the ever increasing layers of protection on private property," he said to the working party.

"Protection used as ammunition by those who have little or no connection with the land to stop useful progress being made by landowners."

District Plan Review team leader Rowan Wallis said the fact the range could be identified as an Outstanding Natural Landscape did not preclude applications for wind farms from being submitted.

But Mr Perry said putting the designation in the Hastings District Plan would not provide a level playing field for any future wind farm proposals.

"It will just provide ammunition for people to easily work against that kind of progress," Mr Perry said

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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