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Firm gets two-month extension

Mighty River Power has been given more time to respond to a government board of inquiry decision slashing the scale of its planned Turitea Wind Farm near Palmerston North.

The company’s general manager for development, Mark Trigg, said the two-month extension to May 12 was necessary because of the complexity associated with possible changes to the project.

Mighty River Power applied to build a wind farm of up to 104 turbines on the Tararua Range, but, in a draft decision released last week, the board permitted only 61 turbines.

It is understood the company needs more time because the board’s decision had wide-ranging implications for the location of overhead power lines, the position of some turbines, and the negotiation of noise conditions and traffic management plans.

Mr Trigg said major infrastructure could be moved and people would have to be consulted about that. “The extension will give those parties we are consulting with time to consider the options put to them by Mighty River Power and to make their own comments on our applications.”

The delay in getting a final result comes on the heels of an already lengthy decision-making process, after a hearing starting in July 2009 spanned nine months.

In its application for more time, Mighty River Power said a further delay in the process would be reasonable. “Given the 11 months that have passed between the close of the hearing and the release of the draft report, Mighty River Power does not consider that the extension … would be a breach of the board’s duty to avoid unreasonable delay.”

In its draft decision, the board said a proposed transmission line along Back Ridge was inappropriate, so it asked Mighty River Power to come up with an alternative route. The board also requested that the power company create a revised set of noise conditions.

It also said Mighty River Power’s traffic management plans for Kahuterawa Rd and Greens Rd did not go far enough.