Wellington City Council planners have recommended the proposed Mill Creek wind farm in the Ohariu Valley be given the go-ahead – but with fewer wind turbines.
The Council planning officer’s report to the upcoming hearing on Meridian Energy’s proposed wind farm recommends approval be given for 25 turbines rather than the 31 turbines proposed by Meridian Energy.
Council Local Area Planning Manager Dougal List says the removal of six turbines at the southern end of the site would lessen the visual and ecological impact of the wind farm. The six turbines recommended for removal would have significant impacts on a number of nearby homes, or are in locations where it is considered the necessary earthworks would have negative impacts on streams and wetlands.
Mr List says the Mill Creek application attracted almost 700 submissions “and has involved a very challenging assessment for Council planning staff. We have had to weigh up significant local impacts against the benefits of renewable power generation”.
“We have concluded that the proposal has significant impacts on the local environment and natural character of the coastal environment. However this is balanced by the site’s very high suitability for power generation. It’s very windy – and it’s close to both a key part of the National Grid and to urban Wellington.”
Meridian’s resource-consent application will be considered by three independent commissioners at a hearing scheduled to start on 11 August. The hearing is a joint process involving Wellington and Porirua City Councils and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. It is expected to run for up to five weeks.
Though the proposed wind farm is within the boundaries of Wellington City, Porirua City is also involved because the project calls for the construction of a private road from Spicer Valley – in Porirua City. The road would be used for the delivery of turbines and other equipment and by assorted construction traffic.
Porirua City planners have recommended approval for access to the site over that part of the private road that is within Porirua City, while Regional Council planners are expected to submit their report next week.
Up to 140 submitters have indicated they wish to speak at the hearing.
The hearing is to be chaired by Auckland-based resource management consultant David Hill. The other commissioners are also resource-management consultants – David McMahon from Christchurch and former Whangarei Mayor Pamela Peters.
In its consent application, Meridian notes the project would involve:
31 wind turbines, up to 111m in height, each with a capacity of 2.3 MW
More than 800,000 cubic metres of earthworks to create turbine platforms and access tracks and roads
installation of an internal transmission network
two 70-metre high wind monitoring masts
erection of a substation and an operations and maintenance building
realignment of a section of the existing national grid power lines crossing the site
a range of temporary construction activities including but not limited to on-site concrete batching, geotechnical investigations, extraction and processing of basecourse aggregate, site offices and ancillary activities
stream-bed disturbance, diversion and placement of structures in streams, together with various discharges ancillary to the construction of a wind farm.
Press Release: Wellington City Council
31 July 2008
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