Wind farm decision still on the way

By Laurel Stowell, Aaron van Delden

1 comment
Ryan Piddington was ready to answer questions about the proposed Waverley Wind Farm at the 2012 Waverley A&P Show.
Ryan Piddington was ready to answer questions about the proposed Waverley Wind Farm at the 2012 Waverley A&P Show.

Waverley and Patea people should soon find out whether 48 massive wind turbines are going to be built on coastal land there.

South Taranaki District Council expects to make a decision on Waverley Wind Farm consents early next year, planning manager Blair Sutherland says.

The Trustpower proposal for a 48-turbine wind farm on 980ha of coastal land between Waverley and Patea attracted 24 submissions, most of them against it.

The council has requested more information from Trustpower for the application, and that information is due back early next month. It is waiting for cultural impact assessments from both Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui and, as a result of submissions, more information relating to noise and visual effects.

Those who have made submissions on the application will be consulted as the council considers the proposal, but no further submissions will be called for, Mr Sutherland said.

The region has several monitoring masts but the wind farm will be a first for South Taranaki and the wider Taranaki region.

With a large project, the applicant can opt to have the Environmental Protection Authority consider the resource consent application, but in this case has not done so.

Taranaki Regional Council has been asked to issue consent for minor activities at the site - earthworks, installing culverts, stormwater discharges, dust, water takes and filling man-made ponds, resource management director Fred McLay said.

Ngā Rauru should have its cultural impact assessment done by the end of November, kaiwhakahaere Anne-Marie Broughton said.
It still needed more input from marae and from owners of the Waipipi Section 75 Okotuku District block, who met there recently at Trustpower's request. The block is 20ha "smack bang in the middle" of the wind farm, and the only piece of land in the area that was never mined for sand in the 70s and 80s.

"It's the only natural piece of dune left," Ms Broughton said.

The tribe was especially concerned about how birds and water would be affected by the development. Members have heard a lot of water will be needed in construction, and that ponds will be filled.

Trustpower is working on a mock-up, to show members how big the turbines will be.

Asked whether the tribe was being offered any financial inducements to approve the proposal, Ms Broughton gave a definite "no".

"We will not be bought off on any environmental matters," she said.

Further up the coast, the Ngāti Ruanui iwi was initially furious at not being asked to take part in a cultural impact assessment.

Now Trustpower has delayed the project so Ngāti Ruanui can complete the assessment. The extension of time will mean that the application won't be dealt with until early next year, kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

Patea resident Sally Sisson said the district was feeling "open to abuse" as people contemplated both wind farm and seabed mining proposals.

Local people were getting no communication from Trustpower, and being treated as if they didn't exist, she said.

Some expected the consents would be bulldozed through, whether they agreed or not. Others, because the proposal came up in 2012 and nothing happened, wondered if it was "another big red herring".

It would take more than a few thousand dollars donated to the community to sweeten the deal for local people, Ms Sisson said. Halving the price of electricity for people in the area would be more tangible and immediate.

"The only people that actually benefit out of this are the landowners and Trustpower, and that's not enough because it has a huge impact on a whole lot of people."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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