Another wind farm near Palmerston North came a step closer today when a High Court judge ruled in favour of a city council plan to add an additional purpose to its Turitea Reserve.
Palmerston North City Council required the addition to legally allow Mighty River Power to apply for a resource consent to develop a windfarm on the reserve.
If it goes ahead, the new wind farm will be the fourth in the area.
The resource consent process including public consultation will be a further step in the proposed windfarm development.
In August 2005 the council signed a partnership deal with Mighty River Power to develop a $300 million wind farm on the reserve, 10km east of the central city.
The additional purpose was one of three issues challenged by opponents of the windfarm who requested a High Court decision by Justice David Baragwanath.
In his decision, released today, Justice Baragwanath rejected the argument of the Friends of the Turitea Reserve Society that the additional purpose was illegal.
He said the generation of power by means of wind turbines was a legitimate council purpose.
The decision means the upper reaches of the reserve can potentially be used for a windfarm which would increase the revenue stream to allow for the creation of an eco-park.
The judge rejected arguments that the council was biased and its decision unreasonable, and he also rejected the contention that the council failed properly to consult.
It could not fairly be said that anyone truly interested had lacked the opportunity to respond to the essential issues in the decision-making process, Justice Baragwanath said.
“Nor has there been loss of opportunity for the public to assist the council to reach the optimum conclusion whether or not that conclusion is accepted.”
He was satisfied that the requirements of the common law, the Reserves Act and the Local Government Act as to consultation had not been infringed.
The council said tonight the decision was a vindication of its processes and obligations.
Windfarm Project leader Mike Manson said the council set out to be fair and reasonable throughout the consultation process and the judge has “confirmed the actions we took”.
“Our goal has always been to establish an eco-park in the Turitea Reserve funded by the revenue stream from the windfarm. This decision allows that initiative to proceed to the next stage,” he said.
Mayor Heather Tanguay was delighted.
“It’s the right decision given the absolute urgency of the need to mitigate the effects of climate change through the production of alternative energy,” she said.
26 July 2007
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