Lake Grassmere site manager Gavin Williams applied to the Marlborough District Council last month for a series of consents on behalf of the salt works’ owner, Dominion Salt.
Dominion Salt, owned by multinational Cerebos-Greggs and Australian-owned Ridley Corporation, wants permission to open access, level land, dig foundations and trenches for underground electrical cables, install overhead electrical cables, backfill with concrete, build turbines and operate a wind farm. Consents are needed because the activities do not comply with the district plan. Public submissions closed yesterday.
Mr Williams yesterday referred comment to Dominion Salt chief executive Robin Goldsack who he said was overseas and could not be contacted until next week.
In the consent application, Mr Williams says the wind farm could supply between five and 7.5 gigawatts of electricity an hour each year – enough to supply between 500 and 750 households. The salt works uses 2.5GW/hr a year.
The energy created will depend on whether up to seven turbines reaching up to 47m high, or five turbines up to 75m high, are built.
A wind farm around the refinery south of Seddon will benefit the company, the community and the electricity industry, it says. The company will make more money and be more sustainable, jobs will be created by construction and ongoing operation and maintenance of the turbines, and carbon emissions will fall.
The company asked wind farm consultant Energy3 two years ago to investigate the potential for wind-generated electricity being used at the salt works. It found much of the refinery’s power needs could be supplied by a small wind farm as loadings at the production plant were “relatively stable”, the application says.
Power will still come from electricity supplier Trustpower when there is no wind, while any excess power generated will be sold into the grid, it says.
Dominion Salt commissioned landscape architect Mike Moore to assess the affect of the towers. He found negative affects will be low as there are few houses nearby, the scale is modest and the landscape has already been significantly modified by the salt works and agriculture. The closest home is just over a kilometre away.
Noise pollution was assessed by Energy3 as “negligible”.
The towers’ effect on radio, television and microwave transmission is also expected to be “relatively limited” because of the narrow and curved design of the tower and blades, the application says.
Consultation has also taken place with Marlborough Lines and KiwiRail, which own UHF radio bands in the area, as well as Vodafone and Telecom, the application says.
Dominion Salt asked Blenheim-based ecological consultancy Wildlife Management International what impact the wind farm would have on ecology at the site.
It found that there are no significant natural habitats left on the site and birdlife is dominated by introduced species. Negative impacts were unlikely.
Iwi, the Civil Aviation Authority, Marlborough Roads and the Historic Places Trust were also consulted, with no major problems identified.
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