Meridian Energy officials are not holding their breath over a Ngapuhi claim for a share in revenue generated by any future state-owned Northland wind farms.
The state-owned enterprise has two Northland wind farm projects under investigation.
But both are on hold – the one at Ahipara because its proposed site is subject to a Treaty of Waitangi grievance settlement close to completion; and the other at Pouto is delayed by concerns it could decimate rare birds.
Also, neither of the proposed Northland wind farms is in the rohe of Ngapuhi, which has made it clear it unleashed the Maori wind god Tawhirimatea against the Government’s planned assets shares sales, and would not attempt to gather income from wind farms unless they get privatised.
“I don’t think Ngapuhi is linked with either of our projects,” Meridian communications officer Claire Shaw said.
Back in 2008, Meridian was looking at building a 100MW wind farm near Ahipara and a 300MW wind farm in the 3200ha Pouto Forest, which the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust owns about 70km south of Dargaville.
At that time, the Pouto proposal was expected to produce enough electricity to meet the demands of an area the size of West Auckland.
These projections far exceeded the 200MW output forecast from the Crest Energy plan to put 200 tidal turbines at the entrance to the Kaipara Harbour.
Meridian communications officer Michelle Brooker this week told the Advocate that, from what the company understood about the Treaty settlement affecting its Ahipara, or Gumlands, proposal, “there is nothing that changes our view on the status of the project”.
At Pouto, Meridian had erected two 80m wind monitoring masts in 2007 and another two in 2009.
“We aren’t carrying out any other wind farm investigations, but have recently established a small plot of manuka seedlings to assess how well it grows on more elevated and exposed parts of the site,” Ms Brooker said.
“This is being done to determine whether manuka could be used as an alternative land use to the pine now on site.”
Te Uri o Hau trustee Mikaera Miru said monitoring at Pouto had shown standard wind turbines were a danger to birds such as rare fairy terns and kuaka which flew to New Zealand annually from Siberia.
“Applying for resource consents for a wind farm which put these birds at risk would be very difficult,” he said.
“We are looking at turbines with a different design which wouldn’t impact on the birds so much and we are considering whether a crop other than pines would better suit our purposes.”