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Wind farm pros and cons leave community divided

ALEXANDRA: Caught in the middle of a proposal that has divided their community, pupils at the Paerau School are trying to get on with it.

The 10-pupil Maniototo primary school had been designated a ‘‘wind-farm-free zone’’ due to conflict among children whose parents were on opposite sides of the wind farm proposal, Paerau School board of trustees chairman Eric Laurenson said.

It was a common-sense decision made last year, Mr Laurenson said.

Discussion of the wind farm at the school among children, parents and the sole-charge teacher/principal was now banned, due to teasing and fighting that was getting out of hand.

‘‘The kids should not be dragged into it.’’

Things at the school were now calmer, although the community fabric had been ripped apart, Mr Laurenson said.

Farmer Ian Manson, who is opposed to the proposal, said daily life in the community was difficult and he doubted if it would ever return to the way it was.

Landowner Susan Elliot, who is in favour of the proposal, said she did not think the community had been split by Project Hayes. Only a small part of the community was against the proposal. Most residents in the Paerau Valley and the wider Maniototo community supported Project Hayes and its benefits.

Any personal effects of Meridian Energy’s proposal on residents in the Paerau Valley had not been mentioned during the hearing until last week, when Patearoa resident Norma Manson made this comment in her submission: ‘‘For the Paerau community, the wind farm has been disastrous. Those who have turbines on their farms feel that it is their land and they can do whatever they like with it and had no need to consult with their neighbours. Those on the west side of the valley feel that they were never consulted about the wind farm and they are the ones who have to look at the turbines day in and day out. If the wind farm goes ahead, some families will move away, even if their farms are devalued by the wind farm. The community spirit that was there in my time has vanished.’’

-The final day of the Project Hayes hearing will now be on July 13, after being postponed because of bad weather last week.

By Pam Jones

Otago Daily Times

25 June 2007