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Work to start on Bluff wind farm

Pioneer Generation is pushing ahead with a $16 million wind farm for Bluff.

The Alexandra-based company purchased the rights to the wind farm from Energy3 last year and plans to develop the eight-turbine facility, about 3km west of Bluff.

Project manager Tony Jack said the company intended to be on site by October working on foundations and earthworks with towers expected to start early next year. Individual towers will be commissioned in April with full production expected before June next year.

The project will bring about 20 jobs into the region during construction.

The proposed turbine towers will be 44 metres high and each turbine will be capable of generating a maximum of 850kW and a combined generation of 6.8MW.

The wind farm would supply about 2600 homes, but was not large by modern standards, he said. One of the biggest challenges of construction was the weather because the site was exposed, and corrosion because it was close to the sea, he added.

Bluff Community Board member Graham Laidlaw, who owns the land where the turbines will be located, said he was happy the wind farm was going ahead and believed the Bluff community would be as well.

Pioneer Generation chief executive Fraser Jonker said the wind resource at Bluff was one of the best in the country, making the wind farm an “exceptional and high quality investment project”.

The project contributed to the company’s business growth strategy as well as growth in the south, he said.

The wind farm was first proposed in 2011 by wind generation company Energy3.

Consent was given for the wind farm but appealed by Te Ao Marama Incorporated on behalf of Te Runaka o Awarua Charitable Trust and some other parties.

The appeal was withdrawn after Environment Court mediation, on the condition consent was only granted with certain conditions including construction would need to cease if archaeological artifacts were discovered on the site.

Yesterday, Jack said the company had been in discussions with iwi and would be working with local runanga to establish protocols to protect any artifacts that might be discovered.

The New Zealand Wind Energy Association website says four wind farms are operating in the south. They are White Hill in Mossburn, Horseshoe Bend in Central Otago and Mahinerangi and Mt Stuart in Clutha.