Motorimu Wind Farm Ltd dropped two turbines from its proposed wind farm at the beginning of its consent hearing yesterday in Palmerston North, but said if any more turbines were cut, the project would not be viable.
The company offered to remove the two turbines because of noise and proximity to homes in Millricks Line and Scotts Road, Motorimu’s lawyer Vernon Rive said.
Motorimu is applying for resource consent for a 127-unit wind farm on the Tararua Ranges behind Linton and Tokomaru.
The hearing is in front of independent commissioners Dinah Williams, David McMahon and Richard Heerdegen.
Motorimu technical director Bernhard Voll told the hearing that Motorimu’s agreement to remove two turbines results in a revenue loss of about $1 million a year and a loss in net present value of $3 million.
“This reduction in revenue has been accepted by (Moturimu) as a show of good will towards nearby residents.”
However, loss of more turbines would render the project unviable, he said.
Motorimu’s team disputed a recommendation by Palmerston North City Council planner Jeff Baker that consent be given for only 84 wind turbines, because of adverse visual effects highlighted in a report by landscape consultant Clive Anstey – a report that discusses cumulative effects of wind turbines on the Tararuas, including the proposed PNCC/ Mighty River Power wind farm at Turitea.
But Mr Rive said there is no legal justification for this approach.
When assessing cumulative visual effects, Mr Anstey had explicitly factored in the presence of the Turitea wind farm proposal, for which no application has been lodged, let alone consent granted, he said.
“The law is clear, that, when assessing an application such as the present, no account should be taken of the possibility of a future activity for which at least a discretionary consent would be required,” he said.
Any effects (including cumulative effects) of the Moturimu proposal on the proposed Turitea wind farm were not a relevant consideration, Mr Rive said.
Mr Voll said the common trend for wind farms is for large turbines, which are cheaper, and originally he was looking at turbines that were a similar size to those at Te Apiti.
But the roadworks required to get the huge turbines onto the site would have an environmental impact, so he went for smaller turbines.
He said the larger turbine models are not proven in the New Zealand climate.
The individual turbine components will go to each site by truck and the roads must be at least 4.5-5m wide to cope with the vehicles and cranes.
Mr Baker and Mr Anstey will give evidence later in the hearing. It’s expected to continue all next week.
By Helen Harvey
9 March 2007
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