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Manawatu wind farm proposal challenged 

A group of Manawatu residents took their opposition to a proposed wind farm on a reserve near Palmerston North to the High Court at Wellington today.

In August 2005 the Palmerston North City Council signed a partnership deal with Mighty River Power to develop a $300m wind farm on the reserve, 10km east of the central city.

The original plan said the farm would have at least 40 turbines, generating about 120-150MW electricity, and Mighty River Power would make an annual payment to the city.

The reserve was previously designated as being for local purposes, water supply and the protection of flora and fauna. But in October last year the council added another use, allowing it to be used as a renewable energy resource.

The Friends of the Turitea Reserve Society are seeking judicial review of the council’s decision to change the purpose to accommodate energy generation.

Lawyer Kenneth Johnston said the group was challenging the legality of the decision and the processes involved.

The group was an incorporated society, made up of residents from the region concerned about the future of the reserve, Mr Johnston told the court.

The 3500 hectare reserve forms a backdrop to the city and its ridgeline is visible if standing in The Square in the centre of Palmerston North, he said.

It includes a scenic reserve and a water catchment area supplying 60 percent of the city’s water.

Mr Johnston said 530 people lodged submissions in relation to the wind farm, 66 percent in opposition.

If it goes ahead, the wind farm will be the fourth in the area.

The hearing before Justice David Baragwanath is set down for two days.



30 April 2007

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