Opponents of a proposed wind farm that would be seen across much of Hawke’s Bay say their Environment Court bid to stop the development is filling a national policy void on where wind farms can be located.
The Environment Court finished four days of hearings yesterday with a site visit to Te Waka Range, 40 kilometres west of Napier, where Hawke’s Bay lines company Unison plans to build a 37-turbine wind farm.
The Outstanding Landscape Preservation Society, a group made up of local landowners living hear the development, local iwi in Hawke’s Bay, and Hawke’s Bay Windfarms, which has a resource consent for a 75-turbine development near Te Waka, have all made submissions to halt the $260 million development, which was approved by Hastings District Council last year.
Outside the court, Ben Crosse, a Patoka farmer and representative of the Outstanding Landscape Preservation Society, said the construction of 90-metre turbines on Te Waka Range would be “sacrificing the Hawke’s Bay landscape for power generation”.
“Because of its elevation, Te Waka Range is more visible to the wider region than Hawke’s Bay landscape icons like Te Mata Peak and Cape Kidnappers.
“We’re not opposed to wind farms but there’s no national policy in place for where they should go. It’s a piecemeal approach, and by taking court action we are in effect putting our hands in our own pockets to form national policy on this.
“There needs to be a balancing act on industrialising and domesticating the landscape and power generation. The court’s decision on this will be precedent-setting.”
Maungaharuru-Tangitu Society counsel Jolene Patuawa said the site for the wind farm, on what was regarded as a sacred mountain, had been opposed on spiritual and cultural grounds. Te Waka Range takes its name from the legend of Maui, who fished up the North Island. The mountain is believed to be his waka.
“It is significant to Maori not only regionally but nationally as well. They feel that the mountain is them and they are the mountain. This has all led to a real feeling of hurt with this association not being recognised.”
Lawyer for Hastings District Council, Bruce Gilmour, told the court the wind farm would contribute about one per cent of New Zealand’s annual electricity consumption and would help to maintain and develop the region’s energy resources.
While the council accepted the Te Waka Range was an outstanding natural landscape, it did not mean development was prohibited, he said.
Judge Craig Thompson and commissioners Kathryn Edmonds and William Howie have reserved their decision.
(c) 2007 Dominion Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.
23 March 2007
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