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Pair run turbine but oppose wind farm

Noise and safety concerns for residents and birdlife are behind a Blind River couple’s opposition to a proposed wind farm on the hills above the Lake Grassmere salt works.

Vanessa and Cyril Schonberger live 1.5 kilometres north of the proposed wind farm, which will include up to seven towers.

Dominion Salt which owns the salt works south of Seddon, applied to the Marlborough District Council last month for a series of consents to build the wind farm to power the salt works.

Mr and Mrs Schonberger wrote one of four submissions on the application, but theirs is the only one against. A hearing date has not yet been set.

They were not against wind farms – and were themselves running a 20-metre-high turbine – but the proposed site was unsuitable, Mrs Schonberger said.

“They have their place but not around residential areas … when they are on hills above houses they cause [noise problems].”

She did not accept a report commissioned by Dominion Salt that suggests noise effects on neighbours would be “negligible”.

“They can’t prove that until it’s up, and they’re going on 1998 noise standards.”

She acknowledged her property was zoned rural, but a cluster of about 15 houses had been built in the area since the viticulture boom in the late 1990s.

Dominion Salt had also not included enough safety measures in their application, with fears of lightning strikes and strobe effects caused by sun rising behind the towers, she said. “We’re on the coast and they’re going to entice lightning. They can fly to pieces in high winds. We watched our one fly to pieces in high wind.”

The company could generate power in other ways, such as hydro, Mrs Schonberger said.

Two submissions were made in support of the wind farm, including one from the Marlborough Environment Centre.

Centre spokesman Steffan Browning praised the move to energy self-sufficiency. “It’s fantastic in concept and location.”

They preferred seven turbines of 47m in height, rather than five at 75m.

Members’ only reservations were about potential effects on neighbours, although they unlikely, he said.

Dominion Salt chief executive Robin Goldsack did not want to comment on Mrs Schonberger’s comments. “We would prefer this was discussed in the appropriate hearing, and that’s the resource consent hearing.”

The company was pursuing what it saw as a “green energy project”, he said.