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Battle joined against Wairarapa wind farm

Wairarapa Maori landowners are vowing to fight construction of a Meridian Energy wind farm near Eketahuna.

The power company has sought resource consent to build the Mt Munro Wind Farm, made up of 20 turbines standing 130m tall over a 700h area on three privately-owned farms.

Mt Munro is on the boundaries of the Tararua and Masterton districts, an area known for strong and consistent wind, and the proposed wind farm would be a few kilometres north of the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre and about 5km south of Eketahuna.

Makirikiri Aggregated Trust spokesman Geoff Perry said the group was the largest landholder in the area affected by the proposed development.

The group owns almost 450ha of mixed farming land at the foot of Mt Munro, he said, as well as the southern end of the mountain itself.

“Our land is directly below where Meridian plans to build the wind farm. We would be in the shadow of what would be a bloody diabolic abuse of the whole area,” Mr Perry said.

“We are aware that neighbouring landholders will also be opposing the wind farm but unlike our neighbours – not that we ever would – we can’t just sell up and move away if we’re not happy with it. By statute we have to remain,” he said.

“The towers they are proposing to build will be huge and would be a blot on the whole range. From a Maori perspective and aesthetically it will be completely out of order.”

Mr Perry said Meridian representatives were told of the trust’s “strenuous opposition” during a site visit several weeks ago that had also included a representative from the Rangitane o Wairarapa iwi authority.

He said the trust expected the full support of Rangitane o Wairarapa and the Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa authority.

Mr Perry said the trust opposed the wind farm as it ran against the Treaty of Waitangi claim, Wai 262, that seeks to preserve and protect the environmental and ecological value of the area.

He said the trust had set aside an 80ha parcel of pristine bush-clad land near Mt Munro that “fits with Pukaha (Mount Bruce) and the ultimate values of a national reserve”.

He said a secondary element of the trust’s opposition related to treaty rights as set out in Section 9 of the State-Owned Enterprises Act.

“The Government is seeking to meddle with Section 9 and that would effectively eliminate us or seriously erode our rights under the treaty should a state-owned enterprise like Meridian be sold.”

Meridian Energy project manager Carolyn Wylie said the company had held community consultation about the project, which included an open day in Eketahuna in October. Another is to run this month.

“We’ve been talking to the community about this project since last July,” Ms Wylie said.

She said the proposed wind farm would generate up to 240GWh of power annually, enough to supply 31,000 homes, and would take 18 months to build.

The Mt Munro Wind Farm resource consent application is being heard by the Horizon and Greater Wellington regional councils and the Tararua and Masterton district councils. The deadline for submissions is March 6.

Meanwhile, commissioners last month concluded a resource consent hearing in Masterton on the Genesis Energy plan to build a $1.68 billion Castle Hill Wind Farm in northern Wairarapa.

The plan involves 286 turbines standing up to 155m tall on a 30,000ha site with boundaries 20km northeast of Masterton, 20km east of Eketahuna and Pahiatua and 15km west of the Wairarapa coast, north of Castlepoint.

Dissenting landowners remained unswayed despite a $750,000 deal that Genesis offered to affected communities.