January 22, 2011
New Zealand

Meridian snubs group debate

By CATE BROUGHTON, Northern Outlook, 22 January 2011

Opponents of Meridian Project Hurunui wind farm were disappointed their request for a group discussion at the energy company’s Greta Valley open day was turned down.

Meridian project manager Alan McKinney had been asked by John Carr the week before to consider allowing time for a group discussion but declined on the day, saying it wasn’t the way Meridian ran its open days.

In an informal address to everyone present at the Greta Valley open day, Mr Carr expressed his dismay at the decision.

“As you know I wanted a group discussion but they have not allowed it and that’s disappointing but we will have to accept that.”

A tense exchange followed after one of the wind farm opponents asked Mr McKinney for an explanation.

“I didn’t know John was going to put the letter out to residents and I had told him that’s how we run our open days,” said Mr McKinney.

“What about the way our community does things?” was the reply from one resident.

Despite this Mr McKinney was happy with the first open day, where the company’s consultants were available to speak informally to residents about a range of possible effects from the wind-farm project including noise, visual impact, tourism, recreation, ecology, construction, health and traffic.

He didn’t think any further adjustments would be made to the proposal before the application for consent was lodged. “I think we’ve done the best we can do.”

There had been many opportunities for dialogue and these would continue, he said, as this was “just the beginning of a long process”, but not everyone would be happy.

Residents Roger and Hazel Sharpe moved to Greta Valley two years ago for “a bit of peace and quiet” but say they aren’t sure they will stay should the wind farm go ahead.

“It’s absolutely terrible,” said Mrs Sharpe.

The couple were not persuaded noise would not be a problem after watching the Meridian video.

“It’s just propaganda,” said Mr Sharpe.

“We’re just the little people and they don’t care about us.”

Lucy Pankhurst, who has lived in the area all her life, went to the session with her mother Diane and said she was “quite shocked” when she first saw a picture of the project, but now thought it wasn’t as bad as people said and would bring jobs to the area.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2011/01/22/meridian-snubs-group-debate/