A landscape protection group is gearing up to fight a new application to build a wind farm nearly identical to one already rejected by the Environment Court.
Hastings District Council has given public notice of a request by electricity lines company Unison for consent to build a 34-turbine windfarm on the same piece of Te Waka Range it proposed for 37 turbines in a plan rejected by Judge Craig Thompson in the Environment Court at Napier in April.
Unison intends to challenge that decision in the High Court while also starting a new consent application with the council.
Judge Thompson had said that the cumulative visual effect of Unison’s proposed 37 turbines, added to 75 to be built nearby by Hawke’s Bay Windfarms, would be excessive in a sensitive and distinctive landscape.
He also allowed that the presence of the turbines on Te Waka, near the Titiokura Saddle on the Napier-Taupo Road, would denigrate Maori spiritual values, including the site’s history, water and sacred areas.
Patrick Parsons, a member of the Outstanding Landscape Protection Society, said he did not expect the removal of three turbines to make any difference to the broader objections Judge Thompson upheld.
He was also surprised that Unison was making another bid for consent with such a minor change, while the High Court case on the original judgment was still pending.
Mr Parsons said the renewed application would waste ratepayers’ money.
His group and Maori were preparing submissions and would fight Unison through the Environment Court again.
“The iwi stance is that they don’t want any turbines on that range, and we don’t want a picket fence up there.
“We already have the Telecom tower. Turbines added to that would have created the picket-fence effect.
“No one is going to be pacified by the removal of three turbines.”
Bevan Taylor, chairman of Mangahaururu Tangitu Society, at Tangoio Marae, said iwi had told Unison its revised plan had not changed their attitude.
“The remaining turbines are still in an area of concern to us. We vigorously object to it,” he said.
Unison, which already has consent to build 15 turbines in the Te Pohue area, said the three-turbine reduction in the second-stage development would reduce its generation capacity by 9MW, enough to supply 3500 homes.
It wants to build the second-stage plant with Roaring 40s Renewable Energy, a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and CLP Power Asia, of Hong Kong.
Roaring 40s has already built wind farms in Australia and China, and has three more under construction in China and one in India.
By Kathy Webb
The Dominion Post
7 August 2007
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