Shellrock and sand are being shoved around, fences built and roads widened as 50 workers prepare for the construction of Waipipi Wind Farm.
It will have 31 gigantic turbines placed along 980 coastal hectares between Waverley and Patea. Construction proper is due to start in mid-October, Tilt Renewables site manager Stewart Reid said.
He's managed wind farm builds before, in the South Island and in Scotland. Most wind farms are on hills but this one is different. It's flat, sandy, coastal and has a high water table.
The main focus of the work is making access roads to the edge of the site. The intersection with SH3 was moved farther from the railway line and from the place where seven people died in a two-car collision in June last year.
From there, the road crosses 800m of paddock to meet Rangikura Rd, then Dryden Rd. Both those roads are being widened to two lanes and are still open.
The 800m section will only be used for wind farm construction and major maintenance afterward, but a length of paper road accessing the beach will be opened to the public when construction is finished, Reid said.
All the streams and wetlands on the wind farm are being fenced to keep stock out and let plants grow. Four ponds have been filled to keep birds away from the turbines.
There's a buffer zone, for noise and visual reasons, at the end adjoining Waipipi Beach Subdivision.
South Taranaki iwi Ngā Rauru's coastal Waipipi Block is not part of the farm. The iwi has been very supportive, Reid said, and will have better access to the block when the farm is built.
By then, there will be a platform where people can view the stretch of turbines and Ngā Rauru plans plaques with information about the land and history.
The turbines will spread across four farms, owned by the Alexander and Lupton families and the Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation. The land will continue to be grazed during and after construction with only 2 per cent of it needed for turbines, Reid said.
But the roads linking them will be maintained. The 4.3 MW Siemens Gamesa turbines have a 30-year guarantee and road access will be needed for Siemens staff maintaining them.
When construction begins, there will be about 100 people on site. A compound with offices, toilets, car parks and a kitchen will be built at the midpoint of the inland boundary.
Each turbine will need a 2m deep concrete foundation with a 20m radius. A concrete batching plant will be built near the compound.
The first turbines are to arrive in New Plymouth by boat in May.
The entire site will be closed to everyone except landowners and builders when construction begins. It will have its own substation, where the electricity will be stepped up from 33kV to 110kV before being transmitted across 11km to Waverley Substation.
Wind farm owner Tilt Renewables is sending out newsletters every two months during construction. It has also started a community consultative committee, which had its second meeting on September 24.
Local residents can register for jobs or offer accommodation on the Tilt Renewables website.