The Manawatu Standard was asked to put its queries about the wind-farm development in the Turitea Reserve to Mayor Heather Tanguay in writing. Below is an extract from the exchange.
Q: How much information is available on the proposed Turitea wind farm given that people are being asked to make submissions to it?
A: Your question is misleading. The matter being consulted about is the change of purpose to the Turitea Reserve …
Q: Why has there not been a public discussion about the pros and cons of a wind farm in a council committee? When will this happen?
A: The council as both landowner and consent regulator for the wind farm sees the current submission process as an appropriate mechanism to receive the widest community views on the change of purpose for the reserve …
Q: Looking at the size of wind turbines, how much damage to the reserve in terms of roads going in, construction, etc, will there be?
A: Another misleading question because it presupposes there will be damage. The Reserve Management Plan is about improvements and enhancements. No details of the number of turbines and layout have been confirmed because submissions are about the change of purpose and not about a wind-farm development.
Q: Do you believe there is enough information available for people to make an informed decision?
A: About the change of purpose and amendment to the management plan, certainly.
Q: People are worried about the effects of the turbines on flora and fauna in the reserve. How would you reassure them?
A: The council’s Reserve Management Plan commits the council to conserve and restore flora and fauna, eco-systems and natural landscapes. We have already acknowledged the care that must be taken with the selection of turbine sites and road alignment to avoid sensitive areas. If a wind farm proceeds, we’re committed to native revegetation of a desolate area called Brown’s Flat and to ensuring we continue to provide water of the highest quality for the city. If the change of purpose is approved, investigations about potential turbine sites can be completed. After that all effects will be detailed in any application made by the developer to a Resource Management Act hearing held by an independent commissioner.
Q: Will the submissions on the plan change be heard by an independent commissioner?
A: The change of purpose will be considered by the Palmerston North City Council. If a change is approved, an independent commissioner, whose task is to reach an objective, impartial decision, will be appointed to the larger and more detailed process of the Resource Management Act, which will assess the final proposed wind farm (if we reach that stage) and look at the impacts, mitigations and views from the community.