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An open letter to Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand  

Prime Minister,

KEEP COMMERCIAL WIND FARMS AWAY FROM FAMILY DWELLINGS

Tomorrow, 27 September, you may be attending a “symbolic first sod-turning ceremony” on Makara Farm with the Danish Minister of Transport and Technology and Meridian Energy.

There is no cause for celebration for the local Makara community or Wellington’s best and nationally important coast.

Recent overseas research and experience since the Environment Court heard our case supports our opposition to all wind turbines within 2 km of our homes. We have filed an appeal in the High Court and also applied for a rehearing in the Environment Court.

A report recently written by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recommended to government that the way forward for wind power in New Zealand was small clusters of small turbines, not ‘think big’ projects. Also, the Electricity Commissioner warned that large wind farms will generally require significant upgrades to the grid, so increasing the cost of power, while smaller clusters can delay this need.

A precautionary approach is needed to protect residents: Massive wind farms, such as this one, are industrial sites that belong in remote locations. There is no argument against the need to develop sustainable energy options, but there is no justification for putting profits for such projects, before people.

The simple solution to address both sustainable energy development and problems with noise, vibration and visual domination is to site wind turbines well away from homes, in remote areas.

For Meridian’s Makara wind farm, taking out the 31 (50% of the total) planned turbines that would be within 2 km of our homes will still leave a very large project by international standards.

If such a reduced project is not viable, then the project should not proceed: marginal profit should not be placed above the wellbeing, health and safety of people and communities.

Meridian Energy has not entered into a contract to purchase the turbines for Makara.

The ceremony is premature and it will be a celebration for a very different project from the one Meridian Energy presented to the media and the Environment Court in June 2006.

What Meridian Energy said then:

• The project was indivisible, it required 70 turbines;
• The site had low wind turbulence;
• Terawhiti Hill, which provided 13 suitable sites, was not developed as part of mitigation;
• The site was “the best internationally”;
• “Wellington supports”: (but 40,000 pre-ticked (in support), postage pre-paid, submission forms were distributed by Meridian to garner support. The form stated: “Ideas to help with your submissions….The turbines will not be noisy for residents in Makara”; and a quote from Meridian’s pamphlet seeking support states: “The project had been carefully designed to avoid unacceptable adverse effects on residents and the coastal environment”); and
• The CEO of Meridian Energy says : “when you are 100 metres away, you can’t hear them.”

The facts now:

• The project at only 140 MW (down from 210 MW) and with 62 turbines is still proceeding;
• Meridian Energy has elected to remove 4 turbines closest to Terawhiti Hill, due to excessive wind turbulence;
• Terawhiti Hill could not therefore have been developed either, so it appears that there was no mitigation for 13 turbines as claimed;
• Meridian claims at its Lammermoor wind farm hearing that that site is “second to none in New Zealand”, so the Makara site cannot be “the best internationally”;
• Significant adverse visual effects will result for Makara residents and Wellington’s nationally important outstanding natural coastal environment; (found by the Environment Court);
• Significant adverse noise effects and noise annoyance and irritation will result for the residents of Makara (found by the Environment Court); and
• A farmer at Meridian’s Te Apiti wind farm has been forced to leave his homestead (some 350 metres from turbines) due to noise and vibration from the turbines.
• The new T3 wind turbines are causing sleep deprivation for residents 2.2km away.

The Society questions whether, on the facts now, Meridian Energy can properly proceed with this project.

We seek a moratorium on the construction of commercial wind turbines within 2 km of homes whether or not resource consent has been obtained pending ‘National Guidelines’ on wind power development.

We ask that any national guidelines be independently and fairly prepared to protect residents from the adverse effects of wind power.

In the best interests of all New Zealanders, we ask that you look into this matter as a matter of urgency.

ends

Press Release: Makara Guardians

scoop.co.nz

26 September 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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