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Councillors view turbine plan stance

Dunedin city councillors will decide today whether to lodge a submission on Trust-Power’s Mahinerangi wind farm proposal.

A special meeting of the planning and environment committee has been scheduled to discuss the council’s response to the 100-turbine wind farm proposal planned on land near Lake Mahinerangi next to a council-owned water catchment reserve.

The company has a resource consent application with the Clutha District Council and submissions close on March 2. The special meeting as been scheduled because the planning and environment committee does not meet again until March 5.

The most likely outcome of today’s meeting is that the council will lodge a submission. However, councillors will also have to decide today whether the submission supports or opposes the consent application, or takes a neutral stance. The council has already lodged a submission opposing Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes 176-turbine wind farm on the Lammermoor Range, about 25km north of the Trust-Power site.

In his report to today’s meeting, city council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said the most significant effect of the TrustPower wind farm would be the highly visible turbines.

Council landscape architect Barry Knox, who was asked to review the application, said while some people would perceive the turbines as a positive feature and focal point, others would see them as an unwelcome intrusion into a landscape with openness, wilderness and isolation values.

Other matters the council could address in its submission were increased fire risk to councilowned land and increased heavy traffic during construction of the farm, the potential for changes to the area’s rural character, and noise from rotating turbines (although this was not expected to be significant), Mr Worthington said.

Water and waste department staff had considered the application and concluded the wind farm would not have an adverse effect on the water catchment reserve, he said.

He recommended the council put in a submission and included a two-page draft version for consideration.

By Allison Rudd


21 February 2007