The battle lines have been drawn as a small community near Gore prepares to take on power giant TrustPower over its proposed wind farm.
TrustPower hopes to next week lodge a resource consent application with the Gore District Council for a wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, 15km south-east of Gore, and at a meeting in Mataura on Thursday night it was obvious not everyone was happy.
Twenty-five people fired their concerns at TrustPower major projects manager Deion Campbell and environmental officer Ryan Piddington about a project they said has divided the community.
TrustPower hopes to build the $500 million wind farm on nine properties in the hills behind Mataura. The farm would have up to 83 turbines with a maximum height of 145m. Some turbines would be just 2km away from homes.
The land owners’ biggest concern is the impact the wind farm will have on their property prices.
TrustPower had “handsomely” compensated those people whose land would be used for the turbines while neighbours had been left in the cold. The consequences for them were only negative with pristine views spoiled and fears that noise from the turbines would cause a drop in property values.
Mr Campbell said the wind farm would definitely change the valley and he could not guarantee that residents would never hear the turbines.
Whether the noise was a nuisance or the visual change a negative thing was a matter of opinion.
Mr Piddington said there was no evidence the turbines produced nuisance-type or low frequency noise. However, if there were problems it was manageable and TrustPower was able to shut down individual turbines, he said.
Mr Campbell assured land owners TrustPower would indemnify them against any loss on their property value, if that was what they wanted.
The company had done so with other wind farm projects and would look at it this time – “we see it as low risk” . There was still a long process ahead for people to have their say, he said.
However, this was little comfort for some. One man accused TrustPower of running roughshod over the community because it could not afford to fight while another said there was a degree of inevitability the project would go ahead.
By Sonia Gerken
20 October 2007
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