Having received hundreds of noise complaints about Te Rere Hau wind farm, Palmerston North City Council went to the Environment Court.
A hearing was held in December, and the ruling, released last week, found:
“That condition 1 of the resource consent is being and has been breached by the respondent in that the Te Rere Hau wind farm has been operated in such a way that the noise effects at local residential locations are considerably greater then those predicted in the application.”
Condition 1 of the consent stated Te Rere Hau be “be operated generally in accordance with all the information, site plans and drawings” which were part of NZ Windfarms’ resource consent application.
That decision was largely based on the contents of the Assessment of Effects on the Environment (AEE), a report contained in the original consent application for Te Rere Hau.
The court found noise level predictions made in that report, which became the basis of the levels allowed in the wind farm’s resource consent, were incorrect.
The court also found that information NZ Windfarms provided about the turbines it would use in the wind farm, and the noise they would produce, was incorrect.
The turbines were some five decibels louder than the company had predicted, greatly increasing the number of properties affected.
In its evidence to the Environment Court, Te Rere Hau owner NZ Windfarms acknowledged there were inaccuracies in this report.
But the company disputed the importance of predictions made in the AEE and said condition 1 of the resource consent could not reasonably be read as requiring compliance with those predictions.
There were other conditions in the consent which took precedence over condition 1, it said.
But in its findings the court calls the AEE “the bedrock upon which resource consent applications are founded” and it was important the AEE was accurate.
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