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Tide turns on wind energy  

The tide of public opinion about wind farms might be turning, as a majority of submissions on one proposed in Ohariu Valley are against it.

Wellington City Council released the results of the submissions on Meridian’s proposed industrial wind installation that is bitterly opposed by almost all of the 100 or so residents of the small community to the west of Wellington.

Of about 780 submissions received by the council, 410 were against, 380 for and there were five neutral submissions on the proposed wind farm.

Meridian Energy wants to erect 31 turbines, each 110 meters high, on private farm land owned by five residents who say wind farming is one way to keep their farms economically viable.

Meridian filed its resource consent application for the “Mill Creek” wind farm just weeks after its surprise announcement in February. WCC doubled the normal 20-day submission period after angry residents demanded their local Ohariu Valley community board oppose the wind farm.

The Ohariu Preservation Society said last week that key submission objections were noise, health, roading issues and Meridian’s poor public consultation.

Ohariu Valley community spokesperson and society vice-president Siobhan Lilley said the result was not surprising.

“The residents of Wellington are not silly and are waking up to the real effects of industrial wind turbines too close to homes, and the potential for more to follow. Questions are also being asked about whether these huge investments are actually as economic or as green as they are made out to be to the general public.”

The society cited a recent report from national grid operator Transpower that wind farms in the Manawatu contributed only one per cent of their expected output during peak demand periods over the last three years. That meant thermal power plants were needed.

Mrs Lilley said: “Hopefully Meridian will take heed, along with the council hearing’s independent commissioners and make significant changes to their proposal to safeguard residents, and the environment.”

Mill Creek and other new developments add to the potential of up to 500 wind turbines covering much of the Wellington peninsula in the Government’s and Greater Wellington regional council’s push for an sustainable, renewable, carbon-free solution to the believed global warming and energy crises.

Mighty River Power and New Zealand turbine manufacturer Windflow Technology last month announced their intention to build up to 50 turbines in Long Gully near Wellington’s south coast.

And a little-noticed submission to Porirua City Council on its District Plan Change 7, which could restrict wind farms, showed a Maori group wants to build one on the Plimmerton-Pukerua Bay hills.

The Puketiro Wind Farm proposed by GWRC north of Pauatahanui is also in trouble, with citizens’ opposition group Pauatahanui Futures Society seeking judicial review of GWRC’s decisions and an interim stop-work injunction.

Michael Kopp

The Dominion Post

9 July 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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