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TrustPower alters wind farm stance

TrustPower has abandoned its envelope approach to the Mahinerangi wind farm and has indicated where turbines will be sited.

But the power company still wants to decide how many turbines it will erect at the site.

At the Environment Court hearing on the wind farm in Dunedin yesterday, TrustPower counsel Les Taylor told the court the company’s approach had been amended to reflect specific locations for the proposed turbines.

Each of a maximum 100 turbines would be sited within a 100m radius of an indicated position.

TrustPower previously said it wanted the flexibility to build turbines anywhere within the 1723ha development area, excluding locations not considered for ecological and archaeological reasons.

Mr Taylor said, outside court, the court had reservations about the development envelope approach, and TrustPower decided to present a more detailed and concrete approach.

Judge Jeff Smith commented throughout the hearing the court found it difficult to interpret the envelope approach.

The new plan presented also included positions for earth fill and roading.

Mr Taylor said the more detailed plan would not change the evidence, as evidence was presented by TrustPower on a worst-case scenario basis.

TrustPower does not want to decide on the exact number of turbines until nearer construction, because of changing technology and more turbine models coming on to the market.

Planner Dave Serjeant, of Auckland, completed the evidence for TrustPower yesterday, and said the envelope approach was common, although he had not seen it applied to a large application such as the Mahinerangi wind farm. He said the new approach made the effects of the project much more certain.

Mr Serjeant said the Clutha District Council plan supported this development and was ahead of its time. The district plan supported renewable energy.

He said visual simulations produced by TrustPower were thorough, and people would notice the turbines first and not access roads.

People were provided with enough information, he said He said most people would not ‘‘rate highly’’ the need to have access to wind data when considering the prospects of the wind farm. It was up to Trust-Power to look at wind data.

Upland Landscape Protection Society co-ordinator Ewan Carr said considering how much knowledge TrustPower had acquired of the site, he wondered why the company could not be more specific about the proposal.

Mr Serjeant said TrustPower was unlikely to intensify the site.

Counsel for the Clutha District Council Phil Page said roads sought by TrustPower could be built as a permitted activity under the district plan Similar-sized roads for forestry were being built near the proposed road.

The Clutha District Council would conclude its evidence today, before the Upland Landscape Protection Society presented its evidence.

By Steve Hepburn

The Otago Daily Times

13 May 2008