The Environment Court has shaken the foundations of the Motorimu Wind Farm project by slashing the number of turbines by 40 percent, threatening to make the project unviable.
Allco Wind Energy technical director Bernhard Voll said it would either appeal the decision, or withdraw its proposal. Allco owns the wind farm company.
Motorimu Wind Farm had applied for consent to build wind turbines in the Tararua foothills on the border of Horowhenua and Palmerston North.
After a series of delays, the long- awaited decision was released yesterday, cutting the number of proposed turbines from 127 to 75.
Mr Voll said the company was pleased the decision had been released, but was disappointed with the result. “At the moment this decision, as it stands, is hardly acceptable.”
The 52 turbines that were declined were positioned on the front ridge line of the central Tararua Ranges, known as the Te Mata ridge line, and Kaihinu Peak.
Mr Voll said that the declined turbines were the ones that would have produced the most energy. “We might lose 40 percent of the turbines, (but) we lose more than 50 percent of the generation.”
The company would go through the decision “line by line” to decide its next step. “As the project stands at the moment, with this decision, there won’t be a project.”
A city council media release about the decision explained the commissioners’ reasoning.
“The commissioners concluded that for this wind farm proposal, the benefits derived in terms of renewable energy and climate change were not of sufficient national importance, national value and benefit to justify the significant adverse effects associated with landscape, amenity and cultural issues . . .”
It also said that reducing the number of turbines would “assist in mitigating adverse effects in terms of amenity, visual and cumulative effects, along with potential noise effects”.
Mr Voll said it was contradictory to expect sustainable energy without any cost.
“If New Zealand wants wind energy New Zealand has to accept that wind energy is visible. We all need renewable energy, but (people saying) ‘please put it in places where we don’t see or hear it’ just doesn’t work. You have it put it where the resource is.”
By Katie Chapman
28 June 2007
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