The city has taken the first step toward having a wind farm in the Turitea Reserve.
Last night, Palmerston North City Council’s infrastructural well-being committee voted 12-3 to change the purpose of the reserve to allow renewable electricity generation.
That recommendation now goes to the full council to be approved.
Chairman Peter Claridge said he felt like he had been on a roller coaster and if the vote had been taken in the middle of the submissions hearings, he would have voted against it.
But he became satisfied there was no health issues with the water supply, probable sediment runoff would be mitigated and any profits would be spent on getting rid of the pests.
The first two and a half hours of the meeting were taken up by council officers giving a presentation and councillors said the information had helped their decision.
They had spent hours reading submissions, listening to submissions and reading information about the proposal, councillors said. Some said the issue had kept them awake at night.
They were confident the water supply would not be affected. Many said the water quality would be improved.
And the eco park would see the biodiversity of the reserve improved.
Money for an eco park was a factor in most of the supporters’ decisions.
However, Cr Anne Podd, who opposed the proposal, said the eco park was just a “sweetener”.
“I would prefer the money to be spent on existing reserves. I think we should put the eco park aside and consider the real issue, which is the purpose of the Turitea Reserve.
“It is lawful, but is it ethical? Is it what the community wants?”
Cr Podd said she was in favour of wind farms, but didn’t want to sacrifice the “scenic ridgeline and bush”.
Crs Lew Findlay and Phil Etheridge also voted against the proposal. Cr Findlay’s concern was whether the income would be spent on the reserve or, in the future, would another council redirect the money somewhere else.
Cr Etheridge said a responsible council would spend time educating people on ways to conserve power, such as double glazing and solar panels.
“Is the cost worth it for the desecration of the reserve?”
Mayor Heather Tanguay said the statement by some submitters that the city had done enough is “illogical and irresponsible” and she wants Palmerston North to continue as an innovative leader in the production of renewable energy.
She recently met with Professor Ralph Sims, a world authority on global warming, who told her that “we would need every wind turbine in New Zealand” to turn back the tide of global warming.
After the meeting Mrs Tanguay said it had been a long process and councillors have been under an enormous amount of stress.
“This is only the beginning.”
It’s now up to Mighty River Power to file a resource consent application and the council will make a submission like everyone else, she said.
The majority of the submissions, 66 percent, were against the proposal, but Mrs Tanguay said she didn’t ignore submitters.
The area where turbines are allowed has been halved and the officers presentation had answered the submitters concerns, she said.
It is a very strong council that votes 12-3 in favour of it going ahead, Cr Claridge said after the meeting.
How they voted: To change the purpose of the Turitea reserve to allow renewable electricity generation:
For: Heather Tanguay, Adrian Broad, Peter Claridge, Marilyn Craig, Gordon Cruden, Ian Cruden, Vaughan Dennison, John Hornblow, Jim Jefferies, Jono Naylor, Lynne Pope and Alison Wall. Against: Anne Podd, Phil Etheridge and Lew Findlay. Absent: Pat Kelly.
By Helen Harvey
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