Stuart Brown says he’s surprised Contact Energy have let its consent for the proposed Waitahora windfarm lapse.
“We realised Contact had shelved the project a while ago, but it surprised us when they let the consents go in April,” Mr Brown, the chairman of the Waitahora-Puketoi Guardians, told the Dannevirke News.
The Environment Court granted Contact a consent for the Waitahora windfarm in December 2010, after an earlier proposal had been turned down, allowing for the erection of 58 125-metre-tall turbines, or 52 150 metre-tall turbines over nine kilometres of the Puketoi Range in the Waitahora Valley.
It was expected the windfarm could have generated more than $21 million for the district during its construction period, with 100 people employed.
The equivalent of 32 full-time jobs through direct employment and purchases of services was predicted to flow into the district and Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis said that, although the loss of those jobs was a blow, the council would carry on trying to attract business to the district.
In late 2013 Contact Energy announced its proposed $400 million Waitahora windfarm east of Dannevirke was unlikely to be started before resource consent expired at the end of last year, but Mr Brown said the decision to allow the consent to lapse was “very unexpected”.
“Late last year Meridian’s Taihape project was extended and so we fully expected Contact to apply for an extension here,” he said. “We were talking to Contact up until November last year and they said they hadn’t made up their minds.”
Mr Brown said his Guardians group were glad the consent for the Waitahora windfarm had been restricted to five years, but it fully expected it to be rolled over for a further five.
“Meridian’s Puketoi windfarm 40km south of Dannevirke was consented for 10 years, but it seems Contact’s Waitahora project was uneconomic.
The company has built a geothermal plant and with the reduction in electricity use and demand not rising like it was 10 years ago and the surge in LED lighting, even for street lighting, it means we retain our pristine landscape out here,” he said.
“Throughout the process the Guardians were supported by people who understood our view and we’re very grateful.”
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