TrustPower was yesterday given the green light for its largest wind farm development, east of Mataura, but opponents are already warning to expect an appeal.
The Gore District Council’s hearing panel has approved all resource consents sought by the company from the council and Environment Southland.
New Zealand’s fifth-largest power generator, TrustPower, plans to spend $380 million on the wind farm. There would be up to 83 wind turbines, with the ability to generate 240MW, on the Kaiwera Downs site.
The development covers 2568ha, encompassing 10 farms, and was bounded to the north by State Highway 93. The turbines would be 145m tall, the highest in use in New Zealand.
Concerned Neighbours of the Kaiwera Downs Wind Farm group spokesman Henry McFadzien said there was a sense of inevitability about TrustPower getting consent.
“I felt it was always going to happen.” However, that did not mean residents would give up their opposition.
Feelings were strong enough that it was likely there would be an appeal, Mr McFadzien said.
In its 162-page decision, the hearing panel found any negative effects were localised while there were significant economic and environmental benefits nationally.
Turbines would dominate views within 7.5km of the site but the substantially positive effects of the wind farm outweighed negative visual effects, it says.
To offset any adverse effects the panel has ordered that TrustPower pay a development contribution of 0.2 percent of the project’s total value.
This would equate to $760,000, less than half of what could have been awarded under the Gore District Council’s financial contribution policy for large developments.
Any local roads used during construction were to be upgraded, at TrustPower’s expense, to carry the increased traffic. The company would also have to pay for any maintenance needed as a result of road use during construction.
The company’s request for an extended consent period from five years to 10 years has been granted to give it some flexibility during construction.
TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches said it was pleasing to get consent and the conditions, at this stage, looked all right.
Assuming there were no appeals, it would be at least three months before anything might happen in terms of ordering turbines if the economics, at the time, stacked up.
The panel’s decision was open to appeal for 15 working days.
By Sonia Gerken
The Southland Times
10 June 2008
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