Agitation about the impact of Turitea Wind Farm traffic on Kahuterawa and Greens roads is mounting as the deadline for submissions on the draft decision allowing the project closes in.
More than 30 residents who attended a meeting with developer Mighty River Power last week cast a vote of no confidence in the consultation process.
Notes of the meeting endorsed by most of those who attended said that one meeting, close to deadline, was “contemptuous” and signalled Mighty River Power had “no intention of incorporating any of the meeting’s outcomes into its submission”.
“Most people are tired, many are angry, and some are upset by a few very unpleasant exchanges,” they said.
But project manager Mark Henry said Mighty River Power had observed the formal process the board of inquiry had set down in its draft decision allowing the wind farm.
“The residents of Kahuterawa Rd and Greens Rd need to be given a much higher degree of certainty on daily maximum truck movements and the period over which these truck movements will occur,” the board said in its draft decision in February.
Mr Henry said the meeting with residents, facilitated by an independent chairman, was part of the consultation demanded. “It’s about the safe and optimal use of local roads. We all want a safe outcome, and believe we can make it safe.”
Asked about the sometimes heated argument reported in the residents’ notes, Mr Henry said, “People, rightly, are passionate about it”.
Mighty River Power proposes using the two roads as access to the wind farm site for “enabling” work. They will carry about 10 per cent of the traffic to the site, with the rest coming from the northern access off the Pahiatua Track.
None of the 60 wind turbines to be erected on site will be carried up Kahuterawa and Greens roads.
Residents have called for tougher restrictions on the hours trucks can use the roads during the construction to limit early morning disturbance, and to give school, commuter and cycle traffic clear runs.
While some of that detail was discussed, much of the agenda was taken over by residents’ complaints about the Palmerston North City Council’s absence from the meeting.
Talks between Mighty River Power and council traffic engineers had been held separately.
Council planning officer Jeff Baker said the board had not specified how consultation should be carried out, and the council believed the talks were satisfactory.
While no-one from the council was invited to the meeting, Ashhurst-Fitzherbert ward councillor Duncan McCann attended for about an hour.
He said he was concerned that Mighty River Power had left its consultation with residents so late, within days of having to submit its proposal to the board.
“The process, I consider, was flawed, and it was a bit cynical to separate residents and council.”
Mighty River Power has to supply its proposed conditions for traffic movements on the road to the board of inquiry this week.
Other submitters will have until May 12 to comment before the board issues its final decision.
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