Councillor Peter Claridge’s infrastructural well-being committee will decide whether the Turitea Reserve Management plan should be changed to allow a wind farm on October 18.
Its recommendation goes to the full council but these are nearly always accepted, he said.
Cr Claridge says the real arguments that people are most interested in, such as how many wind turbines, where they will be and what damage they will do, will pass to hearings under the Resource Management Act under an independent commissioner and that seems wrong.
“A lot of councillors now have serious concerns about the whole matter. I don’t think, myself, that we can leave it to the resource consent process.
“We, as politicians, will be held to account. The general feeling in council is we have responsibility for it.”
The committee may put conditions on any wind farm in the reserve, but this would be discussed in what will be “a very interesting debate,” he said.
The proposed wind farm was the most controversial issue the city had seen, he said.
The committee has listened to three evenings of submissions which were “highly thought through and intelligent.”
“There were several professors from Massey, and it’s true most live in the area, so the not-in-my- backyard emotion is there but that doesn’t invalidate their submissions.”
The submissions raised concerns that councillors have yet to have answered, but this may happen at a workshop next week, he said.
The workshop for councillors, which will be attended by representatives of Mighty River Power, will not be open to the public.
Cr Claridge said he had seen a summary of ecological and landscape impact reports, and a water- quality monitoring plan, that have been requested by the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act.
The council took the required 21 days to tell the Standard it had passed the request on to Mighty River Power.
The Standard couldn’t contact anyone from Mighty River Power for comment yesterday.
Cr Claridge said the reports came under the public excluded part of a meeting so he can’t comment.
A report to the infrastructural well-being committee on September, 28, 2005, obtained under the Official Information Act, recommended it enter into a contract with Mighty River Power.
“The contract allows Mighty River Power to complete ecological and landscape impact reports for a proposed wind farm,” Cr Claridge said.
“This information will then enable council to make a future decision on whether or not to proceed further.
“This decision will trigger a public consultation process on changes to the Turitea Management Plan.”
By Helen Harvey
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