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Windfarm plan worries locals

Opponents of a proposed $325 million wind farm in South Taranaki fear it will ruin views of the mountain, affect property prices and even disrupt migratory birds.

Trustpower wants to build 48 wind turbines each standing 160m tall on 980ha of coastal land between Waverley and Patea.

Mike and Angela Connell are beginning to think they have a wind farm hoo-doo.

They were bought out of their Makuri home in northern Wairarapa to make way for Mighty River Power’s Puketoi development.

Now they find Trustpower plans to run transmission lines in front of their Fookes Street property in Waverley.

Angela Connell said they knew about plans for a wind farm, but did not think it would affect them.

“We were told ‘there’s nothing happening right in your area’. So we did know about the wind farm, but that wasn’t going to affect us, that was way out on the coast.

“And now here it is [transmission lines] proposed to be right out there and it’s going to affect the view. You know we’ve got the view of Mt Taranaki. It’s spoilt our whole outlook.”

Mrs Connell said the news had come as a nasty shock.

“It’s absolutely terrible and the last time really took years off Mike’s life with the whole battle of the thing, which went on for two years.

“So you can see we’re pretty upset, wild, really upset. We never thought we’d come to a place and it would happen all over again.”

An independent economic report estimated the project would inject $40 million into the regional economy during its two-year construction phase and about $3.3m every year thereafter.

It would employ between 80 and 100 people during its build and create up to 10 permanent jobs, the report said.

But that was of little consolation to Frazer Fields, who owns a section at Waipipi Beach.

“Well I was going to retire on it but I’m not quite sure now. It could be a little bit tricky with the big activity next door. It will be pretty ugly looking towards Mt Taranaki and that would be one of the reasons I’ve actually bought this section.”

Mr Fields was one of 20 individuals and groups which had made submissions against the project.

Fish and Game and the Department of Conservation were worried about bird strike and the effect on endangered migratory birds such as the South Island pied oyster catcher and the pied stilt.

They were also concerned about plans to in-fill ponds on the site and the affect of that on fish and eels.

Ngā Rauru and Ngāti Ruanui were also opposed to the development at this stage.

Te Kāhui o Rauru Kaiwhakahaere Anne-Marie Broughton said the iwi had not been given enough time to prepare a cultural impact report.

“All along there are culturally significant sites, but there’s one very special site along there and that’s our old fishing village. It’s a 50-acre (20ha) site right in the middle of the wind farm so it’s absolutely significant.”

South Taranaki District mayor Ross Dunlop said he too had concerns about the project, but those had to be weighed against its benefits.

“I tend to agree the (transmission) pylons are going too close to those houses. I actually had a look at it and I would support that, but overall I think that this clean green energy is very important for New Zealand and for our community.”

The South Taranaki District Council expects to hold public hearings on Trustpower’s resource consents application before the end of the year.