The Te Rere Hau Wind Farm near Palmerston North is breaching its resource consent, the Environment Court has found.
Following repeated noise complaints from residents near the windfarm Palmerston North City Council asked the Environment Court to rule whether Te Rere Hau was operating in accordance with its resource consent
In a decision released today the court has ruled the windfarm, owned by New Zealand Windfarms Limited, has been operated in such a way that the noise effects for neighbouring residents are considerably greater than those predicted in the resource consent application.
The council has welcomed the decision, chief executive Paddy Clifford said it was likely the decision would set a precedent as it is one of the few wind farm noise rulings in the country.
“The case and ruling came about because members of the affected community and Council staff worked together on this issue. Now that we have the backing of the Environment Court we can start working towards a resolution with New Zealand Windfarms Limited,” he said.
In 2005 the Palmerston North City Council granted a resource consent allowing the establishment of the 97 turbine wind farm (65 of which have been installed) which was subsequently built in stages. The wind turbines in question are noticeable on the Palmerston North skyline as the smaller model two-bladed wind turbine.
The Environment Court also declared that the Palmerston North City Council is entitled to review the windfarm’s noise consent conditions.
Head of planning services Russell O’Leary says Council staff will now consider the decision in its entirety before deciding on any further course of action.
A publicly traded company New Zealand Windfarms released a statement to the New Zealand stock exchange this evening.
“While our advice stream had led us to be confident of the outcome,” it read. “The reality is that the Environment Court has made declarations which it expected will require us to take more actions than those planned to date to mitigate noise, including an increase in the monitoring.
“We need to do further work (including consultation with Palmerston North City Council) to understand fully how we address the implications of the Environment Court decision.”