If Mighty River Power takes its plans to build a wind farm at Cape Campbell to the next stage of a resource consent application, the Marlborough Environment Centre (MEC) will work with the company to balance generation with iconic Marlborough views.
This is the reaction of MEC spokesman Tim Newsham to the company’s interest in building a wind farm on an exposed stretch of coast between Seddon and Ward.
Mighty River Power is in the research stage of plans to build up to a 50-tower wind farm near Cape Campbell. The 100 to 150 megawatt farm could power up to 70,000 homes.
“We would be asking for proposals or conditions from Mighty River and the local authority to safeguard locally visible significant Marlborough views,” Mr Newsham said.
Critical details would be the number of towers, their placement, and whether blades turned in sync.
The major roading required to put towers in place would destroy hillsides and threaten soil stability, said Mr Newsham. Restoration of this damage would be a priority for the group.
People were caught up in the “positiveness” of wind farming, said Mr Newsham, but “how much industrialisation of a high value landscape will they tolerate”?
A soon-to-be-released Marlborough District Council-commissioned report by consultants Boffa Miskell recognised the potentially affected stretch of coast as unique and significant, he said.
“Maybe it will be decided to write off this coastline because of its energy generation potential.”
The MEC made submissions against locally-based company Energy3’s plans to build three and four-turbine wind farms near Ward, to mark the group’s commitment to protecting Marlborough landscapes, said Mr Newsham. The proposal was seen as setting a precedent for larger wind farms.
“We were putting a shot across the bow of future consents and trying to get council to consider landscape effects, not recognised in the the Wairau Awatere Resource Management Plan in relation to energy generation,” he said.
For about 12 years the MEC lobbied Marlborough Lines (then in the business of electricity generation) and council to invest more research and development into wind farming in Marlborough, said Mr Newsham.
“We are supportive of alternative, environmentally sustainable energy versus the Wairau scheme which does not offer enough gain for the sacrifice involved,” he said.
In about the late 1980s the Ministry of Energy identified 16 places in New Zealand as having outstanding potential for wind farming, he said. Two of these were in Marlborough, including Cape Campbell.
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