A Taranaki iwi wants turbines proposed for the region’s first multi-million dollar wind farm to be kept at least one kilometre from multiple sites of cultural significance.
Te Runanga o Ngati Ruanui is seeking to establish Taranaki’s first cultural cautionary zone along the Whenuakura River, which borders the farm site at Waverley where Tararua Wind Power Ltd (formerly Trustpower) wants to put a 48-turbine, $325 million wind farm.
Kaiarataki Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said there were 50 registered sites of significance and many others that had not been registered, along the river.
The sites included places where human remains or taonga had been found.
“These sites are important to us as iwi and also as New Zealanders,” she said. “There was a lot of activity and a lot of settlement along the river before the arrival of Europeans.”
The iwi had asked the company to move some of the turbines so none were built within 1000 metres of the sites and had discussed setting up the protective zone under the Resource Management Act.
Ngarewa-Packer said the iwi had hoped an agreement could be reached before the iwi spoke at a resource consent application hearing on Thursday.
The week-long hearing headed by an independent commissioner began on Monday at the South Taranaki District Council.
The commissioner would visit the site of the proposed wind farm on Tuesday. Submitters who objected to the project or sought changes would be heard on Thursday.
An RMA planner’s report commissioned on the application by the STDC recommends granting the application with various conditions.
These included to offer planting to some owners of properties within three kilometres of the turbines and to run the transmission cable underground to reduce the visual effect on Waverley residents.
It also recommended the company set up and publicise a toll-free phone number and form a consultation group to represent the community during the construction and initial years of the wind farm’s operation.
Other measures suggested included imposing management plans to monitor the number of bird deaths, to monitor and restrict shadow flicker affecting nearby houses, and noise and traffic management during the construction.
On April 21, the other iwi affected by the project, Ngaa Rauru, withdrew its objection after reaching a mitigation agreement with Tararua Wind Power.
Some of the measures agreed to include contributing to management plans for the restoration and enhancement of theWaipipi Stream and the coastal landscape; protection measures for migratory bird species and translocation measures for freshwater fish and plants; establishing permanent access to a historically important haapu village and Ngaa Rauru providing cultural monitoring and support to the windfarm project.
The proposal for the plant, which would be Taranaki’s first wind farm, was first mooted in 2007 when Allco Wind Energy NZ Ltd, subsidiary of Australian investment company, Allco Financial Group announced plans to build one.
In 2009, the project hit a snag when Allco Wind Energy was put into receivership. TrustPower secured development rights in July 2010.
It revived the proposal in 2012, but shelved the plan again until 2016, when it sought a resource consent and the consultation process began.
Twenty four submissions were received by the STDC in June 2016, but a decision on the project was stalled in October while the council sought more information from Trustpower.
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