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Look beyond the ‘clean, green’ hype, say opponents  

Preserve Pauatahanui (PP), the first group incorporated to oppose Puketiro Wind Farm, says its leaflet drops throughout Whitby last week, showing Puketiro “in everyone’s backyard”, produced hundreds of responses.

The leaflet, titled “Is your street on the list?”, asked people if they:

# are prepared for a huge wind farm just a few kilometres from their homes, with noise, blade-glint and low-frequency vibrations;

# can tolerate reduced property values, due to the proximity of “industrial structures”;

# realise that wind energy is unreliable and won’t help local shortages;

# can imagine the visual impact of 130 metre-high turbines on the Pauatahanui ridgelines;

# are ready for “a sea” of randomly flashing red aviation warning lights every night.

Preserve Pauatahanui says in a press release that “it is very hard for us as a group to ignore something that is going to be so much in our faces”.

“As we read and research more on wind farms and wind energy development, we have come to realise that the impacts on the wider community are seriously understated by the wind developers. We are asking people to look behind the superficial messages of clean, green renewable energy and to learn the seldom-told truths behind wind energy.”

The immediate issue, which Kapi-Mana News covered last week, is how Greater Wellington Regional Council represented the appearance of the wind farm in its 2005 consultation document that gained over 90 percent approval of a wind farm at Puketiro. Preserve Pauatahanui said it was misleading.

turbines.JPG

GWRC’s consultation document on the original Puketiro proposal in July, 2005, included this graphic of the three possible wind turbine sizes (white turbines) that might be installed. But the graphic was misleading as to the size comparisons. The scales next to each turbine (in blue) were not consistent, so that the larger turbines were seen as not as tall as they actually were. We have redrawn the graphic with red turbines that are correctly in proportion to an accurate scale (also in red).

The graphic shown above, from the 2005 GWRC Puketiro consultation document, shows the relative sizes of Puketiro’s possible turbines – incorrectly, admits GWRC, which said it didn’t matter.

RES New Zealand Ltd, the wind farm developer chosen by the GWRC for Puketiro, believes the “speculation” in last week’s article was unnecessary. Development manager Chris Drayton says, “RES has already prepared accurate and realistic photomontages of the proposed Puketiro wind farm from five well-known viewpoints around Porirua, Whiby, Mana and Paekakariki Hill Road.”

The images area available on their website – www.res-nz.co.nz. When they have finalised their proposal, Mr Drayton says they will produce images from other vantage points.

But the growing issue for objectors is how the wind industry makes and uses photographic simulations of proposed wind farms, for both public consultation and as evidence in planning, resource consent hearings, and court cases.

Ohariu Guardians is also livid about the visuals. That’s a group of over 100 residents, formed to oppose a 41-turbine wind farm proposed for Ohariu Valley by Meridian Energy.

Meridian (and others) uses a photographic technique it claims truly mimics what the human eye sees of an environment with wind turbines in it. But objectors here and overseas say while the method has been accepted by courts, it is still misleading because it mimicks the image formed on the retina, without taking into account the rest of the human visual processing system and how it perceives reality.

Preserve Pauatahanui spokesperson Diane Strugnell says, “People are asking what they can do to oppose Puketiro. ‘Isn’t it a done deal?’ they say. We don’t think so. People can tell their elected representatives in Porirua, who are about to vote on Plan Change 7 about wind farm regulation, that they don’t want it. There’s a general election coming, too.”

An allied group, Pauatahanui Futures, went to court to stop Puketiro, alleging flaws in GWRC’s Battle Hill Farm Forest Park management plan. That action is pending, and GWRC is understood to have agreed to not proceed with any wind farm activities until the issue is determined or before October 31.

Mr Drayton noted that New Zealand is entering yet another winter power shortage.

“Puketiro is exactly the type of project that will help prevent a repeat of this situation and avoid the need to run extremely expensive and environmentally unfriendly diesel generators just to keep our lights and heaters on. We hope that people will continue to keep the bigger picture in mind when considering the need for Puketiro.

By Michael Kopp

Kapi Mana News

17 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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