Shocked Dunedin councillors were forced yesterday to come to terms with the wideranging effects Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes wind farm could have on the city.
A council committee has moved to oppose the wind farm, after discovering it could have “significant” adverse effects on Dunedin, even though the development will be built outside the city boundaries and the council has limited power to affect it.
Some councillors were angry they had only recently heard details of the effects. These include Meridian’s expectations of a total of 76,900 vehicle movements, and the possibility of trucks weighing up to 125 tonnes and as long as 60m, rumbling down Riccarton Rd in Mosgiel, Mountfort St in Outram, and the Old Dunstan Rd.
The wind farm was also expected to have adverse effects on the character and amenity of rural-zoned land, significant outstanding landscape, and fire safety, a report by council resource consent manager Alan Worthington said.
The council planning and environment committee debated a submission written by Mr Worthington on Meridian’s land use consent application to the Central Otago District Council (CODC).
Project Hayes, on the Lammermoor Range, will have up to 176 turbines on the eastern side of the Styx-Paerau Valley, producing 630MW of electricity at full capacity. It will dwarf the largest wind farm in New Zealand, at Te Apiti in the Manawatu, which has 55 turbines and produces 90MW of electricity.
While the proposed site is entirely within CODC land, part of it will border DCC land.
The report said wind turbines and associated equipment would be transported from Dunedin via State Highway 1, Riccarton Rd, Outram, State Highway 87 and the Old Dunstan Rd to the site.
The number of vehicle movements was “high”, even over a five-year period, and the council was not able to request a condition to mitigate effects on residents near the road.
The eastern line of turbines on the site would be visible from State Highway 87, other public roads, and public and private land within Dunedin city.
“The proposed wind farm will have an adverse effect on the rural character and amenity and the significant landscapes in Dunedin.”
Mr Worthington faced some direct questions from councillors at the meeting yesterday about the timing of the report, and his suggestion the council take a “neutral” position in its submission to the CODC.
Cr Fliss Butcher asked him when council staff had been notified of the application, and was told it was mid-October.
By David Loughrey
The Otago Daily Times
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