The Flat Hill Wind Farm near Bluff has been given the green light after an appeal against the project was withdrawn.
An Invercargill City Council commission granted consent for the eight-turbine wind farm in February 2012, but this was appealed by Te Ao Marama Incorporated on behalf of Te Runaka o Awarua Charitable Trust.
The trust claimed the area’s cultural heritage had not been respected, and believed the development did not fit into the district plan and could negatively affect residents.
In the Environment Court findings released this week, Judge Jane Borthwick said the appeal had been withdrawn after Environment Court mediation, on the condition consent was only granted with certain conditions.
Those conditions included stopping the turbines if archaeological artefacts were discovered on the site, maintaining a register to record any complaints about the farm, and undertaking multiple noise compliance checks.
The wind farm was first proposed in 2011 by wind generation company Energy3.
Bluff Community Board member Graham Laidlaw, who owns the land where the turbines will be located, said he was “over it” because the process had taken so long to work through.
He could not believe the project was finally going ahead, but said it had been diluted by the added conditions.
“The community will still get something out of it, but probably not as much.”
Energy3 director Tom Cameron said he was pleased the appeals process had finished, although work would not begin for at least a few months. It was difficult to give a start date or an estimated cost for the project because the length of the appeals process had altered original plans, he said.
“A lot’s changed since we started, so we’ve got to check turbine prices and availability. We’re just stepping back now and looking at what markets are available.”
Te Ao Marama Inc resource management officer Dean Whaanga could not be reached for comment yesterday.
THE FLAT HILL WIND FARM
Will feature eight turbines, each with a lifespan of about 25 years. Will put up to 6.8 megawatts of power into the national grid, powering about 3300 homes. Will take about nine months to construct.
– © Fairfax NZ News
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