Residents have been left in limbo after it was announced the resource consent hearing for the Mt Munro wind farm will be delayed by a year.
The wind farm would be scattered along the ridge line close to Pukaha Mt Bruce, about 5km south of Eketahuna, and would have 20 wind turbines up to 130m high over 720ha, generating enough power for 31,000 homes.
Halswell resident Gavin Osborne said locals were surprised to hear of the delay, and asked why assessments weren’t done properly before the initial application was submitted.
“The transmission line and substation are a short distance from Pukaha and the kaka in particular, have been identified in the assessment as at high risk from this. We question whether it is appropriate to have an industrial project next to such an important restoration project,” Mr Osborne said.
The delay put the lives of residents on hold, particularly those thinking of selling and moving from the area, he said.
Horizons Regional Council spokesman Phillip Hindrup said Meridian Energy asked in August if it could defer the hearings until it could carry out monitoring and assessment. “It was not a decision we took lightly due to the uncertainty this creates for the community. However, it is in accordance with best practice to have the information prior to going to a hearing,” Mr Hindrup said.
Meridian Energy spokeswoman Claire Shaw said the company wanted to spend four seasons monitoring birds on the transmission line route and site, and give affected iwi more time to complete cultural values assessment. “We wanted to do this work before the hearing as it provides us with a greater understanding of any possible effects.
“We acknowledge the relationships we have developed in the region and we thank everyone who has been involved in the project so far.”
A hearing is likely about November 2013.
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