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High Court grants council leave to appeal windfarm ruling

Court wrangles to settle on a process to quieten the Te Rere Hau wind turbines are set to go another round.

The High Court has granted the Palmerston North City Council leave to appeal a ruling that constrained its ability to issue an abatement notice to New Zealand Windfarms.

The Environment Court originally declared that the wind farm on the Tararua Range overlooking Palmerston North was producing noise levels that breached its resource consent conditions.

NZ Windfarms appealed to the High Court, and in June, Justice Joe Williams upheld the appeal. He agreed the 65 Windflow-500 turbines were generating more noise than the original application estimated.

The city council has fielded more than 800 noise complaints.

Justice Williams proposed the city council could overcome the problems by reviewing the conditions, something he said was “no mere tinkering exercise”.

City council head of planning services Russell O’Leary said the council had taken legal advice, and believed it had a strong case for seeking a fundamental overhaul.

“If we win this appeal, NZ Windfarms would have to apply for a new consent.”

NZ Windfarms will contest the appeal.

Chief executive Chris Sadler said the company was confident about its position.

Meantime, it would continue to monitor sound levels experienced by local residents which it believed would prove it was complying with its consents.