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The Environment Court decision — Makara Guardians  

Meridian Energy told the general public that we (Makara Guardians ) ‘spread misinformation’.
The Environment Court found that significant adverse effects will result for the Makara community, both in respect of noise and visually, and significant adverse effects will result for the coast, just as we always said.

The Environment Court found that the Makara coast:

Is nationally important;

Is an outstanding landscape;

Is Wellington’s best coast;

Is a rare resource district wide

and Meridian’s development (if it goes ahead) will have a significant adverse effect on it.

The Court considered that the treatment of Quartz Hill by the development was ‘repugnant’

The Court found that even if the noise conditions are adhered to by Meridian, there will be significant adverse noise effects for the community. If Meridian does not adhere to the conditions, then the effects will be severe and Makara residents will be subject to sleep deprivation. The conditions assume windows and doors are closed to prevent noise penetrating into bedrooms.

There are no noise conditions to protect public places, Makara Guardians’ noise expert gave evidence that the noise at the gun emplacements (the regionally significant Makara Walkway), will exceed WHO recommendations and this was not challenged by Meridian.

The Court decided allowing all these significant adverse effects was acceptable because the development was ‘appropriate’.

The development was ‘appropriate’ because the Court reasoned:

1.”The project will make Wellington self sufficient in power” ( However…the fact is that the power is going into the grid!)

2.”The site is the best internationally” ( But Meridian Energy has just told a South Island hearing that the ‘Lammermoor’ development is ‘second to none’ in New Zealand)

3.”There is low turbulence” (We believe that turbulence is probably the reason for Meridian having to go for smaller turbines. We know as locals that sites Meridian said it did not develop although ‘technically feasible’ must be subject to significant turbulence, and we suspect the same for a considerable number of the current turbine sites).

4.”It will delay the need to strengthen the grid” (However…the opposite is the case, it is likely to increase the need to strengthen the grid earlier “¦and at whose cost??).

In addition how can it be a good site when the Court has indicated that Meridian will have to turn turbines off to comply with the noise conditions? (Turbines are too close to residents for it to be a good site.)

Wellington has (or had) a great environment at Makara, one worth fighting for. This was why Makara Guardians was formed, to protect it from unnecessary development as a wind farm. And it is unnecessary, we brought evidence from Molly Melhuish, a nationally respected energy consultant, to that effect.

A recent report published by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has said large wind farms such as proposed here are not the way forward for New Zealand, the significant adverse impacts are avoidable by harnessing wind power using smaller clusters of small turbines servicing remote towns, and this will be better for the country. Unfortunately this report was published just after our hearing was completed.

Makara Guardians had good grounds to appeal against the decision, but decided against it for a number of reasons, one of them being that members are very keen for Makara Guardians to continue as a watchdog in respect of this development (if it proceeds), for the vast majority of the community.

Many are saying that the best outcome for this unique and outstanding landscape is to create a natural and scenic regional park. It is already owned by government. In this way this outstanding and easily accessible landscape can be protected for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of future generations. No money needs to be spent to create anything, it is sitting there waiting to be appreciated.

While some still try to argue that this project will enhance the area; experience overseas, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and the Environment Court all find otherwise.

We are ever hopeful that as Meridian said the project was “indivisible”, that this might be a truthful statement. If Meridian was telling the truth the project will not go ahead. To its credit the Court could not bring itself to approve of 4 of the turbines despite what we all saw, as significant government pressure.

Meridian Energy as a State Owned Enterprise has a social duty to local communities; it can avoid causing significant adverse effects by building wind power developments in the many other places that are windy, but unpopulated, in New Zealand. The whole of New Zealand has ‘world class’ wind.

This appears to be yet another case of an SOE putting “˜profit before people’. The same amount of CO2 emissions can be gained at suitable sites without causing adverse effects on local communities or treasured landscapes.

Makara Guardians Inc has received enormous support from the Makara community, the people of New Zealand and throughout the world and wishes to express its gratitude for that support.

Press Release: Makara Guardians

Scoop

8 June 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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