Wel Networks’ proposal to build a $200-million wind farm at Te Uku is heading for the Environment Court, with three appeals lodged against resource consent for the project.
The appeal period closes this week, but Frank Bellerby, proprietor of Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat, the Te Uku-based Tui G group and Wel Energy Trust candidate Sean Cox have already submitted appeals.
Mr Bellerby’s retreat offers boutique accommodation on farmland and native bush, where the emphasis is on seclusion, peace and quiet.
But under Wel Networks’ plan, a massive turbine will be located just a stone’s throw from his luxury units overlooking Te Uku.
Mr Bellerby had initially sought to have “turbine 29” removed, but experts said that without it the whole project would be uneconomic.
Mr Bellerby said his appeal was based on the adverse effects his thriving three-year-old business would suffer from the visual presence and noise of the turbine.
“We sought legal opinion and they thought we had good case,” he said. “This will materially affect our business.”
In their decision, the commissioners acknowledged that the Hidden Valley Luxury Retreat was likely to suffer adverse effects, with the wind farm “unlikely to be consistent with the style and objective of the activity currently being developed by its owner-operator”.
However, that did not sway them from approving the project.
Mr Bellerby was not cowed by threats from Wel Networks that it would seek costs should any appeal fail.
Tui G spokesman Stephen Frew said Tui G was appealing on 11 grounds. The main grounds were a contention that the consultation process did not meet legal requirements, interpretation of landscape and visual amenity policies, and the project’s economic viability.
“This is not frivolous,” he said.
“These are good and strong legal points to appeal on.”
Meanwhile, electricity governance rules and industry arrangements are under review, with the Electricity Commission and Trans-power recommending that parties considering wind generation investment contact Transpower as soon as possible for discussions.
Possible changes to performance requirements for wind-generating plant and market arrangements may affect the economics of wind-generation projects.
The first three years of a 10-year wind generation investigation have revealed poor peak winter performance by existing wind farms.
The three major farms supplied less than one per cent of their capacity during peak-load periods in the past three winters. When electricity prices were at a peak there was not enough wind to turn the blades fast enough.
By Bruce Holloway
25 June 2008
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