Meridian Energy has gone back to the drawing board after discovering a turbine design glitch affecting contentious wind farms planned for Wellington.
The power company has applied to Wellington City Council for a variation of consent to change the design of 62 turbines planned for Project West Wind at Makara to include boxes the size of vans at the base of each turbine to house transformers.
The same turbine and box design is planned for the 31-turbine Mill Creek wind farm proposed for Ohariu Valley.
Makara-Ohariu Community Board chairwoman Ruth Paul said Meridian’s decision to change the design because they discovered transformers could not fit through doors at the base of the turbines, should go back to the community for comment.
The 4.5 x 3.5 x 2.5 metre boxes would alter the visual effect of the turbines, which was residents’ main concern, Ms Paul said.
Enclosing transformers inside the base of turbines was a condition of the Environment Court’s approval for the wind farm, she said.
The community board believed the “slightly botched planning” meant the council should go back to the original submitters who commented to the court on the visual effect of the turbines.
“The design change means a completely different visual scenario than the court approved, more structures on ridgelines, the kind of impact community members should be able to comment on,” Ms Paul said.
The battle over whether a massive wind farm should be allowed on Wellington’s most rugged, untouched coastline had raged for more than a decade before it was settled in the Environment Court last year.
The court shaved four turbines off the company’s original 70-turbine proposal, made them move another five away from residences and the company dropped another four.
Meridian also cut the height of the turbines from 124 metres to about 111m.
The company decided in September last year to go ahead with the project and began roadworks before Christmas. The first turbines were to be installed by November and the last by August 2009.
Ohariu Valley Preservation Society is being established to fight the Mill Creek proposal. Society member Margaret Niven said the project had divided the community.
Meridian Energy did not respond to requests for comment.
By Kay Blundell – The Dominion Post
1 March 2007