Most of those people living closest to the proposed Te Uku wind farm are vehemently opposed to the project.
After days of detached and often numbing pontifications from hired consultants, it was a stark contrast yesterday to hear some of the closest residents bring a human face to the hearing in Ngaruawahia.
“I can only speak from the heart and it is breaking,” said Ohautira Rd resident Wendy Reid. She said up to 24 of the turbines would be directly visible from her home of 19 years.
Ms Reid variously referred to the wind farm as “a glorified and cunningly gift-wrapped power station”, “a gigantic monolith” and “visual pollution” which would cause catastrophic distress, anxiety and fear.
“It is dividing friends, neighbours, and families in half,” she said. “It is destroying lives and lifestyles and turning me inside out personally.
“We don’t want it in our back and front yards. We are not responsible for New Zealand’s power crisis, we should not be made to feel pressured to feel guilty for not wanting it here.”
Ms Reid endorsed earlier evidence on psychological effects presented by Raglan’s Dr Fiona Bolden.
Dr Bolden revealed that 23 per cent of her patients already had diagnosable mental disorders, and she had grave concerns these could be further affected by the wind farm, through a range of factors from sleep deprivation to visual impact.
Matakotea Rd farmer Grant Dickie said he felt like “a lab rat”.
“We don’t know whether it will affect our house or our health.” He was also concerned for his cows, which he said were “highly stressed animals”.
Philip Ambient said while urban people tended not to look beyond their fancifulness, “rural people look outwards”.
He called the turbines “an eyesore” and said many of his neighbours had so little faith in the hearing process they reoriented by wasting their time making submissions.
Waitetuna farmer Shane Gold said just four families in the district would benefit from leasing the land, and the rest would suffer.
He was concerned at possible noise levels of 40dBa, which he said was the same as people talking in a room.
“I have trouble sleeping when people are talking in a room.”
Jenny Pinfold called for smaller turbines further away, after quoting news reports from an English newspaper this month that suggested thousands of people might be dying in Britain because of a lack of peace and quiet.
Te Uku school board chair Cathie Knox asked for a 70km/h speed limit to be imposed on SH23 traffic through the settlement, given the added visual distraction and the danger to children.
Earlier, Whaingaroa Harbour Care manager Fred Lichtwark expressed a mixture of support for the project, concern about sediment run-off, and a barely-disguised pitch for financial backing from Wel Networks, complete with an offer to do some monitoring work for the company.
By Bruce Holloway
28 November 2007