Makara’s proposed wind farm will set an “alarming” precedent if allowed to go ahead as planned.
Expert witness, landscape architect Di Lucas, told a resource consent hearing yesterday that Meridian’s Project West Wind would contravene common practice of keeping a two-kilometre buffer between wind turbines and homes.
The last week of the hearing for the 56-square-kilometre wind farm development started with residents’ group Makara Guardians relaunching their attack on Meridian’s application.
Ms Lucas, speaking for the Guardians, told the hearing commissioners that the 70 wind turbines proposed for the hills southwest of Makara, each 125 metres tall, were too large to put within two kilometres of any residence.
She identified 140 Makara homes that came within this distance, with some homes as close as 800m.
Outside the hearing, Ms Lucas said if Meridian were allowed to put turbines where they wanted, it would have a major impact on what future wind farm developments could do. “It’s quite alarming what that could mean in terms of precedent.”
International research showed it was “general protocol” to allow for a 2km buffer, even with smaller turbines. In New Zealand there were no consented wind energy developments with more than a handful of houses closer than 2km.
Makara’s mountainous terrain did not mitigate the adverse effects enough to reduce the buffer zone.
Ms Lucas told the hearing the coastal environment was also adversely affected by the scale of the turbines, which needed to be a certain distance back from the coast. Council officers reports that coastal amenities would not be affected were “superficial and simplistic”, Ms Lucas said.
A map that gave a “yes-go” area for turbines that met her requirements showed about 15 square kilometres where turbines could be placed in Terawhiti Station. Under Meridian’s proposal, only three turbine sites fell within this area.
Makara Guardians continue their evidence today, followed by other submitters and council officers. Meridian closes its case on Friday.
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