If more turbines aren’t consented, the Motorimu wind farm won’t be viable.
This was the message from Hugh Rennie QC, counsel for Motorimu Wind Farm Ltd, during day one of an Environment Court hearing at the Convention Centre in Palmerston North.
The hearing, expected to take three weeks, is to consider an appeal by the wind farm over an independent commission’s decision to consent 75 turbines, 52 fewer than the requested number.
Mr Rennie said the company had managed to reduce the required number by 14 turbines, but the remaining 38 were integral to the success of the wind farm.
Each turbine was essential to the feasibility of the farm, and cutting the turbines had a big impact.
“A wind farm is not a large number of separate turbines, each of which is a viable project in its own right.
“To the contrary, the turbines are part of an overall generating unit.”
The turbines that had not been consented were also those that would generate the most power, because they were in the areas where the wind levels were greatest, he said.
“The productivity of the additional turbines is significantly greater than those of the consented turbines.”
The wind farm is being built by Allco Wind Energy.
It is proposed for the foothills of the Tararua Ranges along a 4.8km stretch between Williams Road and Millricks Line.
Since the plans first became public in 2006, there has been controversy as people opposed the landscape, noise, and cultural impacts it would have.
Mr Rennie tackled these issues in his address.
Overall, the impact of the extra turbines would be minor, particularly when weighed against the positive effects, he said.
“The proposal would not result in any significant or adverse effects on the environment, as the effects have been adequately avoided, remedied or mitigated.”
In particular, cutting 14 turbines from the request was an important step because they were the turbines with the most negative effects associated, he said.
“The removal of 14 wind turbines represents a significant action by Motorimu to mitigate landscape and visual amenity effects as far as is possible.”
The importance of wind as a renewable resource also had to be taken into account, he said.
“The effects of climate change and the benefits to be derived from the use and development of renewable energy are matters to which this court must pay particular regard.”
The hearing is before Judge Brian Dwyer and two commissioners.
By Katie Chapman
8 April 2008
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