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Green light for wind farm

Hawke’s Bay Wind Farm received the final nod of approval today to begin building its 75-turbine windfarm near Te Pohue on State Highway 5.

The windfarm will be the biggest in New Zealand, generating about 225 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 100,000 homes.

The wind power company had their plan approved by the Environment Court in July this year, but on condition it made modifications to avoid wake turbulence to a neighbouring Unison windfarm.

Now with those modifications approved by the court, Hawke’s Bay Wind Farm’s legal counsel Ton Turley said the company would concentrate on “getting the project running as soon as possible”.

Mr Turley said the company had no plans to build another windfarm on either the Maungaharuru or Te Waka ranges, west of Hawke’s Bay.

The only other windfarm planned for that area was Unison’s Stage 2, Te Waka Windfarm, which was subject to appeal in the Environment Court.

A hearing is likely to be set for early next year.

Construction on Hawke’s Bay Wind Farm’s $350million project would begin during the summer of 2007/08.

Mr Turley said he believed the project had drawn interest from other wind power companies in New Zealand.

He said the speedy approval of the project would provide a boost to New Zealand’s wind energy industry.

“In a period of just 12 months, this project went through a full district council hearing and then a full contested Environment Court hearing, which granted consent to the windfarm,” Mr Turley said.

Work will start on Unison Networks’, stage 1 windfarm at Titokura Saddle, 25km northwest of Napier, next spring and it is hoped the first turbine will begin generating power in mid-2008.

Unison’s two wind farms would generate enough electricity to power 56,000 homes every year.

By Lawrence Gullery and NZPA