A $200 million wind farm generating enough power for 32,000 homes will be built in North Canterbury.
In 2011, Meridian applied for consent to construct, operate and maintain 33 wind turbines and associated facilities on a private property in between Omihi and Greta Valley.
Late year, an Environment Court hearing was held over the proposed ‘Project Hurunui wind farm’.
In a written decision released this week, permission was granted for a 31 wind turbine farm, with two removed because of the view from private properties.
Judge Melanie Harland stated there was an ”overwhelming benefit” in that the farm would provide a renewable energy source.
”There are economic benefits, particularly during the construction period; benefits associated with meeting the local and regional demand for electricity (for which there is a shortfall) and the need for security and supply.”
Judge Harland said the court was persuaded that the regional and national benefits outweighed the remaining adverse visual amenity effects that are unable to be mitigated from certain nearby properties.
Meridian Energy general manager renewable development Ken Smales welcomed the decision.
”[It] gives us a strategic renewable generation option for the future.”
He said the wind farm will generate 71.3MW which is enough to power 32,000 average New Zealand homes a year, and make a meaningful contribution to power supply in the upper South Island.
Smales said, ”Our decision to build will be determined by market conditions and the project meeting Meridian’s investment requirements. At the moment given the flat market demand it is likely that we’re looking at the medium term for construction.”
The community would be kept informed of any progress on the project, he said.
– February 21 2011: Meridian applied for resource consent for the project with Hurunui District Council and Environment Canterbury.
– May 2011: Meridian submitted a request to the councils for a direct referral, so instead of a council hearing the resource consent application would go straight to the Environment Court for consideration.- June 2011: This application was approved by the councils.
– January 2012: Meridian submitted its evidence to the Environment Court.- April 2012: All other parties submitted their evidence.
– August/September 2012: The Environment Court hearing was held.
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