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NZWEA: government consent plan more hindrance than help  

Press Release: NZ Wind Energy Association

Government consent plan more hindrance than help

New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) chief executive Fraser Clark today said a consolidated consenting process for wind and geothermal projects could cause even more unwanted delays to renewable energy projects in the future.

A “consolidated call-in consent process” mooted by Energy Minister David Parker at the Wind Energy Association conference in Wellington today, would allow the Government to run its own process for energy projects of national importance.

NZWEA CEO, Fraser Clark, said the move would help large scale projects, but not smaller ones, and would therefore create commercial inconsistencies in the sector.

“We would be much happier with equal and consistent treatment of projects no matter what part of New Zealand you are in.

To do that, we simply need each local authority to treat wind projects in exactly the same manner, with exactly the same tests and thresholds.

“The quickest – and fairest – path to obtaining consent for essential renewable energy projects should be through local authorities. But the Government needs to give them the right tools to adequately assess energy verses environmental objectives,” Mr Clark said.

“There are a lot of smaller local authorities who are yet to see a wind farm consent application and lack the knowledge to properly assess the impacts when faced with one.”

“The Energy Strategy talks up the importance of national guidance and the RMA allows for National Policy Statements (NPS) and National Environmental Standards (NES) to provide that guidance but we’ve seen little use of them to date,” Mr Clark said.

“If we’re really serious about making substantial increases in renewable capacity we need better education about wind energy developments and national tools that provide clear guidelines for assessment under the RMA.”

“Leaving consent applications in the hands of local authorities ensures each project is treated on its merits, and local suitability, and there is local ownership of the decision,” he said.

Installed capacity of wind turbines in New Zealand has now reached 170 MW. A further 151 MW is under construction in Southland and the Manawatu, nearly doubling capacity to 321 MW – enough electricity to supply over 140,000 typical households.

“Significant potential remains for future wind farm projects with wind providing less than 2% of New Zealand’s total electricity demand, despite having one of the best wind energy resources in the world.”

“We need to act now to harness that potential,” Mr Clark said.

The Wind Energy Association conference was opened by the Minister of Energy David Parker this morning at Te Papa and runs for two days.

ENDS

www.windenergy.org.nz

scoop.co.nz

13 March 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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