Mallard calls in Raglan wind farm decision

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard says he intends to call in Contact Energy's proposal for a 180-turbine wind farm near Raglan to be considered by an independent board of inquiry.

The Hauauru ma Raki wind farm project of up to 540 megawatts is on the Waikato west coast, 8km north of Raglan.

Under the Resource Management Act, the minister can call in a proposal if it is deemed to be of national significance and direct that the matter is referred to either a board of inquiry, or the Environment Court.

In this case, the matter would be decided by a board instead of the relevant regional and district councils, Mallard said today.

The affected councils are Environment Waikato, Franklin District Council and Waikato District Council.

"I consider this proposal to be of national significance. It is relevant to New Zealand's obligations to the global environment in terms of the Kyoto Protocol.

"In addition, the proposal will have direct physical effects on more than one region - in this case, the Franklin and Waikato districts and the Waikato region.

In terms of security of electricity supply, the proposal will have potential effects beyond these areas," said Mallard.

The wind farm was expected to meet the electricity needs of about 180,000 households.

The applications would be publicly notified in September and the members of the board of inquiry would be announced shortly.

Contact chief executive David Baldwin said the decision to use the call in powers should remove the possibility for unnecessary delays while preserving the right for public participation.

If New Zealand was to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources, it was important that major electricity generation projects were able to be consented and constructed in a timely fashion, Mr Baldwin said.

Hauauru ma Raki is the largest project in a $3 billion Contact Energy investment programme aiming to build around 1400MW of new geothermal, wind, hydro and natural gas-fired electricity generation projects over the next five years.

Yesterday Contact posted a 1 per cent fall in net profit for the year ended June to $237.1 million, while underlying profit after tax, excluding one-off items, was up 0.7 per cent at $232.8m.

The gas and electricity company had needed to supply South Island demand by purchasing electricity from the spot market at a "significant" loss during some periods.

- NZPA

Your views

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 19 Dec 2014 22:12:05 Processing Time: 634ms