The idea of a $350 million wind farm at Waipipi on the South Taranaki coast was instigated by the two farmers who own most of the land, one of them says.
Warwick Lupton and his cousin David Alexander own much of the 980ha site, with another portion leased from the Parininihi Ki Waitotara Incorporation (PKW).
Mr Lupton said the two men hatched the first wind farm idea with Australian company Allco Wind Energy. That company went broke and they are now working with electricity generator and retailer TrustPower.
The coastal site had good consistent wind and the landowners would be paid by the company for use of the land.
“It’s good for the community and it’s obviously good for us as well. We’re always looking for other options to diversify into,” Mr Lupton said.
He and his cousin use the land for dairying and cropping, which he said could continue with wind turbines in place. They also have a freight business and race hydroplanes. Mr Alexander’s house is the closest to the site.
Their deal with TrustPower would see the wind farm built within two to three years.
Mr Lupton’s impression is that local people are supportive of it.
“The majority seem to be in favour of it, but they would probably say that to us anyway.”
One person vehemently against it is Sally Sisson, who lives about 2.4km from the edge of the proposed site and does not want to see or hear the turbines.
“There’s no way you could say that these things fit into the environment,” she said.
The turbines would be huge, and she predicted that property values would fall and all the profit would go out of the area.
“We are in the throes of getting together an anti group. It sort of feels like the ant versus the elephant.”
The proposed wind farm site is 6km southeast of Patea and 7km southwest of Waverley, and TrustPower lead environmental adviser Ryan Piddington said the turbines would be visible from both towns.
He’s been leading consultation meetings, with 40 people at the first one in Waverley, one person at the open day on Sunday and a steady stream at Waverley A & P Show.
He said it would take 18 to 24 months and 80 to 100 people to build the wind farm. The economic benefit to the area during that time was predicted to be $80 million.
Once the turbines were working it would take eight to 10 people and cost about $2 million a year to maintain them.
The wind resource at Waipipi was nearly as good as that at TrustPower’s Tararua wind farm, the biggest in New Zealand and one of the best in the world.
The output would be enough to power 50,000 homes. The turbines would be among the highest in New Zealand, to catch the best wind. They would be imported from Denmark and each would need 400 to 600 cubic metres of concrete at their base.
The company would not site turbines on sensitive dune areas, Mr Piddington said. It had also promised to enhance Waipipi Stream by fencing and planting along it.
The next community consultation meeting is at Patea Old Folks Association Hall from 5pm to 8pm on November 22, with presentations starting at 6pm.
WAVERLEY WIND FARM
48 turbines at most
Could power 50,000 homes
980ha coastal site
25km internal roads
Own concrete batching plant