Debate over the proposed northern Rangitikei wind farm won’t blow over quickly.
Rangitikei MP Simon Power has criticised Meridian Energy’s Central Wind project, and said the company had not listened to resident’s complaints.
Meridian plans to erect 52 turbines near Moawhango on the border between the Rangitikei and Ruapehu districts.
However, the plan has attracted opposition from some locals who claim the turbines will ruin their view of Mt Ruapehu and other scenery.
Mr Power has met with the “Rangitikei Guardians”, a lobby group formed to oppose the Central Wind project, and will meet with Meridian next month to relay their concerns.
“I’m concerned to hear that there are so many local residents who feel they haven’t been listened to by Meridian,” Mr Power said. “I was very concerned to hear the residents felt they hadn’t been understood.”
He said the process Meridian had used to inform people about the scheme was flawed.
Opponents of the scheme have criticised the company for gaining support person by person, rather than involving the entire community.
:I think a sensible way forward is to hold a public meeting rather than for [Meridian] talking person to person,” Mr Power said.
Another major concern was the planned location of the turbines.
“It might be as much about location as much as anything else but the whole range remains pretty fluid going into the meeting.”
Spokesperson Claire Shaw said Meridian was committed to talking with local residents.
They held three open days earlier this month, with more scheduled for Taihape and Moawhango in early August.
“We have been dealing with people on a one-to-one basis, as some people prefer that, and we have also provided many opportunities for people to come and learn more about the project in our recent public open days,” she said.
“The feedback was largely positive from the public open days and the personal visits.”
Meridian first contacted private property owners near the Central Wind site about two-and-a-half years ago.
Mr Power had been invited to attend the open days, but was unable. He had accepted the offer of a private briefing instead, she said.
“We remain committed to speaking to and hearing any concerns from the community and look forward to visiting the area again to attend more public open days in August.”
By Simon Wood
26 July 2008
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