Greater Wellington Regional Council knowingly misled the public about the proposed Puketiro wind farm when consulting in 2005, say wind farm opponents.
GWRC rejects the charges.
Preserve Pauatahanui, the first group incorporated to opposed Puketiro, with its “Yeah, Right!” billboards, is mounting the new attack on GWRC’s only consultation, which gained over 90 percent acceptance. GWRC is also considering allowing wind turbines in Belmont Regional Park.
The action group says GWRC knew the Puketiro wind farm would be as large and extensive as developer RES’s eventual proposal. They say GWRC planned it that way but understated it in public consultation.
Now they’re dropping leaflets in Whitby letterboxes featuring images of what they believe the wind farm will truly resemble, plus information on potential dangers raised by growing national and world-wide opposition to windfarms on health, economic and landscape desecration grounds.
An allied group, Pauatahanui Futures, has gone to court in a bid to stop Puketiro, alleging flaws in GWRC’s Battle Hill Farm Forest Park management plan.
Preserve Pauatahanui claims GWRC:
# Knew before the consultation that there would be up to 50 turbines.
# Had mapped a wind farm with specific locations of up to 43 turbines as early as 2003.
# Had itself negotiated with private landowners for turbines on their properties before it consulted and chose a developer.
# Knowingly understated and misrepresented the situation and facts during consultation, like relative turbine sizes and eventual turbine numbers and extent.
GWRC’s wind farm development manager, Murray Kennedy, said previously that RES approached GWRC to expand to 50 turbines. But a document RES provided us says tenderers were required by GWRC to maximise the potential, GWRC “wanted more” than the original proposal, and RES tendered for Puketiro and Akatarawa, Battle Hill, and private land.
This newspaper has sighted GWRC maps dated 2003 for a wind farm double the one consulted on in 2005, and GWRC maps done for Transpower (the national electricity grid operator) showing up to 50 turbines, dated before RES was chosen.
Preserve Pauatahanui spokeswoman Diane Strugnell said “We werent told the truth in 2005. GWRC never put all the cards on the table.
“They neveer went to the people who were going to be affected. GWRC asked all of Wellington but never talked to us. Only a few of us submitted then, and we were against it. Today, most of us in the area are against it. Consult again.”
Mr Kennedy said the consultation was never intended to define all possibilities, but just to seek the region’s approval. It had included information about total electricity output that would indicate the wind farm could be larger.
But Preserve Pauatahanui said that information was in fine print or downplayed, and should have been made clearer. The maps and visual representation should have showed the maximum.
Mr Kennedy said it didn’t show turbines on private land because that’s up to a developer, and would be part of the developer’s resource consent application. The action group says that’s way too late. GWRC’s own documents prove it knew the wind farm would likely be twice the scope it consulted on, and it should have shown the maximum.
Mr Kennedy said the consultation showed the mid-range. The drawing representing the relative sizes of possible turbines was wrong, but it did not matter because the dimension figures were correct.
But a retired professional government cartographer, Geoff Aitken, said Mr Kennedy’s view was unacceptable. “It was irresponsible and unprofessional that a government body should have such a cavalier attitude towards accuracy.”
# More info: www.puketiro.org, www.gw.govt.nz, res-nz.com.
By Michael Kopp
The Hutt News
17 June 2008
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