A proposed wind farm in the Ahipara gumfields is still undergoing investigation by the Department of Conservation.
Meridian Energy applied for a concession from DOC in 2006 to develop a wind farm on the Epakauri conservation area.
The proposed site, about 1600 hectares, is on the south western end of the Ahipara gumfields plateau south of the Hunahuna Gorge, which is owned by the Manukau 5 Trust.
The area north of the Herekino Harbour is Crown land managed by DOC.
The wind farm could comprise up to 36 wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 100 metres.
The turbines would be mounted on towers 80 to 100 metres tall and together generate 99 megawatts of electricity.
Conservation support manager Hilary Aikman says they are working on a first determination report and waiting for more information from Meridian.
“If there was an agreement in principle, then it would be the first time a concession was granted for a wind farm on conservation department managed land,” says Ms Aikman.
Meridian Energy’s wind investigation manager Graeme Mills says it is the best wind resource in the Far North.
“It’s by the coast and elevated. There are other reasonable sites but they have less wind strength.”
Mr Mills says a wind farm can co-exist with the conservation values of the land.
He says the concession would give Meridian access to the land, but the company would still need to determine if the project was commericially viable for it to proceed.
If so, it would then have to apply for consent under the Resource Management Act.
If approval was met an optimistic scenario could see the wind farm in operation in about five years.
By Kim Reed
10 October 2007
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