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Final Turitea debate heard

Erosion would be a significant issue on the Turitea Reserve but the effects can be mitigated, Mighty River Power representatives told a submissions hearing last night.

It was the third and final night of submissions to Palmerston North City Council’s proposal to change the Turitea Reserve Management Plan to allow wind turbines in the reserve.

The infrastructural well-being committee will meet on October 18 to make its decision.

About 20 people spoke at the hearing and there was standing room only with more than 50 people seated and more people standing along the walls.

Mighty River Power said the reserve was an appropriate site for a wind farm, but Ian Christensen from He Kupenga Hao I Te Reo (inc) disagreed.

Dr Christensen, who spoke in Te Reo that was translated, said wind farms should be erected where they would not cause harm to the environment or its inhabitants.

He also suggested the council could be in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi.

“We absolutely deride and agree that the ecology of the environment will be severely compromised with the erection of wind turbines and the construction that will take place in the eco park.”

Mighty River Power expert William Shaw, who works for Wildlands, said there will be major ecological effects but they can be mitigated and there will be vegetation clearance, but it will be mitigated.

Mr Shaw said there is potential for sediment to get into the reservoir, but the company can minimise the risk in various ways such as using state-of-the-art technology and getting vegetation cover back on the site as soon as possible.

It was an important issue for the resource consent process and he expected tight conditions would be placed on wind turbines that were within the water catchment area, Mr Shaw said.

Mighty River Power spokesman Trevor Nash said the energy company had searched all over New Zealand for three years for good wind sites and Turitea is the best.

The company does not have the final layout for the wind turbines yet, because it has more wind data to collect, he said.

But all decisions would be environmentally driven, such as choosing the right turbine locations, the road design and the crane design, Mr Nash said.

“It’s a balancing act between ecology and wind generation … the ecology of the area can be improved … and water quality will not be put at risk.”

The project was a “publicly owned generation company working with a progressive council,” he said.

Mr Christensen said the council was wrong to “adjudicate the matter” because it had signed the contract with Mighty River Power to erect the wind turbines.

“Your information circulated in your notices are confusing and misleading the people. You ignore and disregard the mana of Rangitaane.”

Tararua is a sacred range as it is celebrated as a personality well known in the narrative “Tararua is the range of mountains, Manawatu is the river.”

“As we see today the Manawatu river ecology has been altered and has become a place for the refuse of man. Let’s not desecrate this range of mountains. It is contemptuous, wrong to the mana of Rangitaane, and to all of us who have a spiritual link to the land.”

By Helen Harvey