Waitahora-Puketoi Guardians are considering whether to regroup to oppose a new proposal for a wind farm on the east side of the ranges.
Mighty River Power, awaiting a board of inquiry decision on whether its Turitea wind farm development near Palmerston North can go ahead, has lodged a fresh application for resource consent to build a 53-turbine wind farm on the Puketoi Range 40km south of Dannevirke.
MRP’s general manager Mark Trigg said wind conditions at the site rivalled any locations in world. At full capacity, the wind farm would generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of all the homes and businesses in the wider Tararua, Wairarapa and Manawatu regions.
Mr Trigg said support from affected landowners had already been received after some community meetings.
But the Waitahora-Puketoi Guardians, formed to fight a Contact Energy proposal that was given the go-ahead late last year, could rise again to oppose the new proposal.
Spokesman Stuart Brown said the guardians would meet when they had seen the details of the proposal, and decide what action to take.
He said the new proposal would adjoin the development that had been approved.
“There’s not a lot of enthusiasm from Waitahora to be involved again, and it is financially draining and takes a huge amount of energy to stand up against these energy companies’ experts.”
Mr Brown said the guardians would at least want to see the skyline protected if a new proposal went ahead.
Meantime, there has been no progress on the Contact Energy development.
The consent is valid for five years, but the company is waiting for market conditions to improve before deciding that it is economic to proceed.
Meanwhile Genesis Energy has lodged its final resource consent application for the country’s biggest wind farm – a possible 286 turbines. Castle Hill, 20km northeast of Masterton, could produce enough energy at peak generation to power 370,000 homes for a year if Genesis’s plans are approved by Greater Wellington regional council, Horizons Regional Council, Tararua District Council and Masterton District Council.
Genesis spokesman Richard Gordon said the company had been consulting 29 private landowners – effectively in partnership with the energy giant – as well as neighbours and community groups for the past two years and feedback had been “generally positive”.
So far there was no “organised opposition” to the project, he said. “If and when built, you will not be able to see the Castle Hill wind farm from Pahiatua, Eketahuna or Masterton.” If large turbines are chosen, they could tower up to 155 metres high.
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