The scaling back of a wind turbine project north of Dunedin has not calmed opposition as one critic accuses its backers of dividing the community.
Blueskin Energy Ltd project manager Scott Willis said its plan for three 90m turbines on Porteous Hill above Warrington had been scaled back to one 110m turbine.
After mediation efforts failed last month, it was going ahead with its Environment Court appeal, much to the disgust of those opposed.
The size of the schism in the community over the project remained clear. Mr Willis said developments in Blueskin Bay – including Orokonui Ecosanctuary – always attracted naysayers.
“Eventually when things are developed they are celebrated and used and seen as assets.”
Nearby resident Jamie Pickford said having one large turbine could have a greater impact than three smaller ones.
The project was no longer a community one and Mr Willis had lost sight of the effect it would have on people, he said.
The financial and emotional strain on those most affected was “phenomenal”, Mr Pickford said.
He questioned the expenditure on legal costs associated with the project, saying the money could have been better spent on other projects such as insulating homes or installing solar panels.
“He’s just pushing ahead so he can say ‘look what I’ve done’.”
Opponent Sally Brown, of Blueskin Nurseries, could not understand why Blueskin Energy was going ahead with the plan given the level of opposition and the stress and financial burden it put on neighbours involved in the Environment Court process.
“I think it’s sad that they are dividing a community.”
Going from three turbines to one was not a significant change given the turbine was much larger and stood 5m taller than the transmitting tower on Mount Cargill.
“Can you imagine how much of a monstrosity that will be?”
The turbine would still have a major impact on neighbours and ruin a naturally beautiful landscape.
“There shouldn’t be a wind turbine on that hill. Whether it’s one or three, it doesn’t matter.”
Mr Willis was confident the court would rule in Blueskin Energy’s favour as its new plan addressed the concerns raised by independent commissioner Colin Weatherall in the resource consent ruling.
It was able to scale back the plan without having a significant effect on the amount of power generated because of technological advancements made since last year’s resource consent hearing.
Given the larger size of the turbine, the cost of the project would not differ significantly from the $5million to $6million figure attached to the three-turbine plan.
The hearing would probably take place midyear next year and if the project was given approval construction could begin in 2018.
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