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Wind turbine rules remain

Pauatahanui resident Nicky Chapman says she is delighted and extremely relieved to have won a long legal battle over wind farms last week.

Porirua City Council had imposed restrictions on commercial wind farms, including a 700-metre separation distance between turbines and either the property boundary or the district plan zone edge.

Mighty River Power and the New Zealand Wind Energy Association appealed the change to the Environment Court, supported by Genesis Energy and Meridian Energy.

The court, chaired by Judge Craig Thompson, last Monday upheld the separation distance provision.

A clause declaring turbines in landscape protection areas non- compliant was deleted after mediation, with the council’s agreement.

Ms Chapman said it had been a long and draining battle that had cost her and her partner at least $15,000 in spite of discounted barristers fees.

“It’s been five long years since the first submissions we made to Porirua City Council when Plan Change 7 was going through the whole hearings process,” she said.

“We were defending private property rights.

“Although it has come at enormous cost, emotionally and financially, we have got the right outcome.”

The ruling has set clear rules for commercial wind turbines in Porirua but does not affect domestic wind turbines.

“I would have no problem with someone doing that,” Ms Chapman said.

“I would do it myself. Industrial- sized turbines – they are at enormous height with a huge wingspan and it’s the mass of them that is so intrusive and unacceptable.”

Should there be an appeal, Ms Chapman said she would continue the fight.

“If they appeal we can’t do anything else but I think they are pretty much on a hiding to nowhere.

“The grounds of appeal are limited, essentially to points of law.”

Porirua City Council district plan review subcommittee chairman Tim Sheppard said he was pleased with the result and said it was a huge milestone and the first plan change of its type in New Zealand for managing commercial-scale wind farms in rural areas.

Kapi Mana News asked each of the power generation companies how the decision affected their wind farm construction plans, whether they intended to appeal and whether the precedent set by the decision had any national ramifications, but they did not reply by the time this edition went to press.

Mighty River Power and the New Zealand Wind Energy Association have 15 working days in which to lodge an appeal.