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Wind farm plan under attack

More than two-thirds of submissions on the Mt Munro wind farm resource consent application are opposed to the project, including local iwi, Fish & Game New Zealand and New Pacific Studio.

The 20-turbine wind farm, proposed for a ridgeline between Pukaha Mt Bruce and Eketahuna, would generate electricity for 31,000 homes.

Of the 58 applications received, 40 oppose it, 11 support it and seven are neutral.

Horizons Regional Council, which is co-ordinating the resource consent process on behalf of four affected councils, said it was in discussion with applicant Meridian Energy but no hearing date has been set.

Fish & Game are concerned the sediment resulting from the construction of the wind farm could affect the Kopuaranga and Makakahi rivers, important habitats for trout.

Kay Flavell said the New Pacific Studio was opposed to the location of the transmission line between Pukaha Mt Bruce and WA Miller Scenic Reserve and the substation directly across from the studio.

“Artists and writers come here from all over the world precisely to study and create works featuring the tranquil rural environment and its bird population. Quiet nights are a specially valued feature.”

Mauriceville resident Paul Tunnicliff said the farm was a risk to the forest restoration and wildlife at Pukaha Mount Bruce, in particular to kaka.

“It is poor use of taxpayer, ratepayer and donor money to spend it on developing breeding, forest restoration and pest eradication programmes at Pukaha Mt Bruce and the surrounding areas, and to then knowingly expose the wildlife to additional introduced hazards.”

The board of Pukaha Mt Bruce submitted a neutral application but asked to be registered as an interested and affected party.

Kahungunu ki Tamaki nui a Rua, Rangitane o Tamaki nui a Rua, Rangitane o Wairarapa and Makirikiri Aggregated Trust all oppose the application.

Makirikiri’s submission said the site Meridian has chosen shows an “ignorance of Maori viewpoints”. They said the resource consent breaches their right to protect their taonga, including the air, water, maunga and forests.

Rangitane o Tamaki nui a Rua highlighted the historical significance of the area as a cultivation site for tangata whenua.

Rangitane o Wairarapa said they were not officially engaged to do a cultural values assessment and were concerned about the protocol around the unearthing cultural material during construction.

Kahungunu ki Tamaki-nui-a-rua said the wind farm would have adverse effects on neighbouring properties, cultural values and rural character and showed insufficient consideration of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Meridian Energy project manager Carolyn Wylie said all four iwi groups were asked to make a submission and prepare a cultural values assessment.

“We have met with four iwi groups who have interests in the area and will be continuing to discuss the project with them.”

Of other submissions, she said Meridian is interested in the issues raised and will address them. The Hastwell Waiwaka Landscape Protection Group, whose opposition was reported last month, also put in a submission, and several group members made individual submissions.

Their objections are visual and noise pollution; saleability of their properties; impact on wildlife; and lack of consultation.

Those who support the project, which included local residents, said the wind farm would give the Eketahuna economy a boost and that renewable energy was worth investing in.

Ian Bailey, from Woodville, said he lived within 2km of Te Apiti and Tararua Wind Farms for 10 years and not seen any negative effect.

“Any noise is no more than living at a beach location. I have heard of no bird strikes on turbine blades in this time.”

Department of Conservation, Powerco and Wairarapa Public Health gave neutral submissions.