A Gore District Council planning consultant, working on TrustPower’s wind farm application, has cast doubt on whether the council would be justified in charging the company the full development levy it was entitled to.
In a detailed report to the windfarm hearing panel, Dunedin consultant Allan Cubitt has recommended consent be granted and that calculation of TrustPower’s financial contribution be put off until building consent was applied for.
Many submissions on the $380 million project touched on the development levy and potential windfall for the council, with some residents promoting the establishment of a scholarship.
The wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, north-east of Mataura, is TrustPower’s largest development of its type to date and has the potential to earn the council $1.9 million in levies under district plan rules. However, Mr Cubitt says to charge the full amount would not be “fair and reasonable” given the effects of the development have been assessed as minor to moderate only.
There has been an effort by TrustPower to avoid sensitive landscape areas and there were numerous positive effects on the environment from utilising this form of energy, the report explains.
The project would have an effect on the roading network and a contribution relating to transportation was appropriate, it says.
TrustPower would have to take financial responsibility for the maintenance of roads in the Gore district used by construction traffic and pay for any work needed because of damage it had caused.
In recommending consent be granted, Mr Cubitt has put forward 58 special consent conditions dealing with such aspects as noise and traffic control, community consultation and ecological monitoring.
Gore planning consultant Keith Hovell said yesterday that all parties were on track for the start of the consent hearing on March 31.
TrustPower would be calling 14 witnesses while 26 submitters have indicated they wanted to address the hearing.
These were made up of six in support, four neutral and 16 against the project.
The hearing would be held in the council chamber and has been set down for eight days.
By Sonia Gerken
18 March 2008
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