A 110m wind turbine proposed for Porteous Hill above Blueskin Bay has been described by local residents as “the wrong project in definitely the wrong place”.
On the fourth day of an appeal hearing in Dunedin, nine Warrington and Waitati residents and one man from Merton, “on the other side of the hill”, voiced their concerns to Environment Court Judge Jane Borthwick and two commissioners about the planned turbine and its placement on Porteous Hill.
The witnesses all asked the court to dismiss Blueskin Energy Limited’s appeal against the Dunedin City Council’s decision to refuse the resource consent for the non-complying activity.
Concerns ranged from the direct effect “an industrial scale wind turbine placed on the hill” would have on their enjoyment of their rural properties, the turbine becoming the focal point of their views, to what they perceived as a lack of consultation by the applicant company.
Marine engineer Alisdair Morrison who lives on a north-facing property in Thornicroft Rd looking directly across Blueskin Bay, said the proposal was a simple matter of Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT)/Blueskin Energy Limited (BEL) wanting to put a 110m-high structure on top of a 401m-high hill against the wishes of those living near the hill site and/or those who had Porteous Hill as a dominant feature in their landscape view.
“I have no desire to have my view spoiled by the erection of a large structure which would look totally out of place on top of the pleasantly bare summit of the hill, an effect which I feel would be ‘more than minor’,” Mr Morrison said.
He told the court he was concerned that if consent for the non-complying activity was granted, with all the effects on Pryde Rd and Porteous Hill neighbours, it would create “a dangerous precedent” for other areas.
“I’m talking about my environment,” he said.
“We have a 400m hill and they want to plonk a 110m spiky thing on top.
“That would spoil the hill for me, from my viewpoint.”
But an unintended consequence of earlier media publicity about divisions in the local community over the proposal was that the whole process had actually united people, bringing together people who did not previously know each other.
Toni Atkinson, a member of the Blueskin Amenity and Landscape Society which opposes the consent, described the area as “paradise”. The number of “built” structures in the area was “very minimal” and she would feel “incredibly torn if an industrial-scale wind turbine was placed on the hill”. She lived on a 42-acre rural property just north of Warrington, Ms Atkinson said.
The planned turbine would be about two kilometres from her home but its position meant it would feel “very dominant” and that concerned her.
“I’d also struggle if the Mt Cargill mast was on top of the hill – but it doesn’t move.”
Ms Atkinson said she also felt allowing the structure would create “an incongruity” given the difficulties people went through trying to obtain consent to add even a bedroom or a conservatory to their house. Her wider concerns were ecological and cultural, including the landscape values of the area.
“As others have said, it seemed the proposed turbine is the wrong project in definitely the wrong place,” Ms Atkinson said.
She was also disturbed by the lack of scientific rigour in the methodology proposed for reporting bird deaths.
Several other local residents also spoke of wide, beautiful and harmonious views, the wonderful birdlife and the mixture of indigenous and other vegetation.
A resident of Pryde Rd, the area with properties directly alongside the proposed turbine site and most affected by visual and acoustic amenity effects, agreed the features of rural lifestyle would remain, irrespective of whether the turbine was on Porteous Hill or not.
“But what changes is the focal point,” Simon Ryan said.
“The focus becomes the turbine.”
It was difficult to disguise, he said. The court will reconvene in Dunedin in mid-July for the hearing of other expert evidence and evidence relating to planning questions.
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