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Investigations at wind farm continue

Investigations into a large wind farm near the Southland town of Wyndham are taking longer than expected and it could be early next year before the company behind the $390 million project is ready to formally apply for resource consent.

Wanaka-based Wind Prospect CWP (NZ) Ltd announced its plans in late March for a proposed 150MW development capable of supplying electricity to about 74,000 homes.

It had hoped all the investigations and consultation needed to confirm the project would be ready so consent applications could be lodged by Christmas, but project manager Doreen Marchesan said it could be early 2009 before it was ready.

The company, which has developed wind farms in Europe and Australia, had commissioned an ecology report while other studies and investigations would trickle in over the next few months, she said.

The project had not attracted as much interest from the local community as first thought although several people had turned up to its open meeting in April and the company had since approached those same people for their feedback.

The main concern, Ms Marchesan said, was the visual impact of the 125m turbines.

The company had provided residents with a “photo montage” to clearly show what the visual effects would be from their respective properties.

A website – slopedownwindfarm.co.nz – had been set up to keep the wider community informed.

Ms Marchesan said the company still hoped to lodge applications this year but realised projects of that magnitude often meant deadlines were pushed back and it could quite easily be early 2009 before the paperwork was completed.

The company had two Wanaka-based staff in New Zealand and the resources of up to about 20 technical staff in the Australian cities of Adelaide and Newcastle.

The proposed Wyndham wind farm is the second in recent months to be announced for the Eastern Southland area.

TrustPower also wants to to develop a wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, also south of Gore.

Facts and figures

• Where: Farmland 15km east of Wyndham and 26km southeast of Gore.

• Number of turbines: 50, with a maximum height of 150m.

• Wind farm size: 150MW.

• Average households supplied: 73,913.

• Estimated cost: $390 million.

• Other
features: Underground electrical cabling, access tracks, wind-measuring masts, a small switch gear building and an export distribution line to send generated electricity to the nearby transmission network.

By Glenn Conway

The Otago Daily Times

30 June 2008