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Wind farm effects debate  

When looking at the visual effects of hundreds of turbines on the Tararua Ranges, should a wind farm that doesn’t exist be taken into account?

This question is starting to loom large over Motorimu Wind Farm Ltd’s application to build a 127-turbine wind farm on the Tararua Ranges behind Linton and Tokomaru.

Yesterday was the third day of the resource consent hearing and the debate over how much consideration should be given to the proposed Palmerston North City Council/ Mighty River Power Turitea Reserve wind farm continued.

Experts and lawyers representing the applicant say the proposed Turitea Reserve wind farm should not have any bearing on Motorimu’s consent application.

The debate centres around how many turbines the Tararua Ranges can support before it hits saturation level.

Motorimu visual effects expert Richard Mayer said there will be a 12km separation between the proposed Motorimu Wind Farm and the nearest existing wind farm, Te Rere Hau, which will provide a buffer.

However, if the proposed wind farm goes ahead in the Turitea Reserve it will fill in about 9km between Motorimu and Te Rere Hau.

But Mr Mayer said it is not appropriate to consider Turitea when assessing the cumulative effects of more turbines on the ranges because no resource consent application has been lodged.

However, Mighty River Power’s lawyer Janette Campbell disagreed.

Ms Campbell, making a submission in favour of Motorimu’s application, told the hearing it would be inappropriate to grant consent to Motorimu if the basis of the decision was that the Turitea Reserve places a gap between Motorimu and Te Rere Hau.

Ms Campbell said Mr Mayer had placed some emphasis on the visual relief and physical buffer provided by the “gap”.

“The Turitea Reserve is situated in that gap and weight should not be placed on the purported beneficiality of the gap, as to do so would presuppose that a large area with world-leading suitability for wind farm development will remain unutilised.”

Mighty River Power recognises that the present environment in which the effects of the Motorimu proposal must be assessed does not include a wind farm in the area between it and Te Rere Hau, she said.

“However, it would be simplistic to overlook the fact that the same locational factors that make Motorimu a suitable wind farm site also make the gap as suitable, if not more so.”

Council expert Clive Anstey said, in a report, that 45 turbines should be removed from Motorimu’s proposal because of the cumulative visual effects on the Tararuas with the existing and proposed wind farms.

By Helen Harvey
Manawatu Standard


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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