New planning rules for almost all of Palmerston North that lies outside the urban area have attracted more than a dozen appeals.
The bulk of the 16 challenges, made the to Environment Court, focus on rules for wind farms, while others are about runway end protection areas near the airport, how close people should build houses to roads and rail lines, and zoning of land at Ashhurst.
City planner David Murphy said the number of appeals was not unexpected given the size and scale of District Plan Change 15, which was heard in eight sections late in 2015.
The management of wind farm noise and their impact on the landscape had been hotly contentious issues in the city for more than a decade and it was not surprising the commissioners’ decision on the plan change had drawn appeals.
All of the wind farm operators had lodged appeals – Mercury (formerly Mighty River Power), Meridian, NZ Wind Farms and Tararua Wind Power (formerly Trust Power).
One of their issues was a rule against any new turbines being erected closer than 700 metres from another landowner’s boundary.
The industry also appealed against the way the council planned to manage re-powering of wind farms as turbines needed to be replaced and upgraded.
The plan acknowledged the importance of re-powering, but largely treated any reconfiguration as a new resource consent application process.
Property owner Joseph Poff opposed the Tararua landscape protection area on the grounds it would make creation of new wind farms almost impossible.
Palmerston North Airport appealed against the commissioners’ scaling down of rules prohibiting development within the runway extension protection areas.
The areas were established to reduce the risk of casualties if aircraft crashed on take off or approaching landing, but the commissioners watered down the restrictions it imposed on adjoining land owners.
Murphy said it was pleasing that one of the key principles of the plan change, to protect rural land from subdivision and maintain its potential for productive use, had not been challenged in appeals.
The exception was from Selwyn Wycherley at Ashhurst, whose subdivision hopes were not permitted within the plan.
Murphy was also pleased there were no additional obstacles to extensions to industrial zoning at the airport and at Longburn.
Both KiwiRail and the New Zealand Transport Agency wanted to put further distance between road and rail, and where new housing was allowed.
Other people who made submissions on the plan change are still able to become parties to the appeals.
Murphy said the Environment Court was likely to ask the council and appellants to attempt mediation.
A judicial conference was scheduled for November 30.
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