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No appeal on wind turbine

The group behind a contentious wind turbine proposal has announced it will not appeal an Environment Court decision to stop it because of death threats and mounting legal bills.

Blueskin Energy Limited project manager Scott Willis said opposition to a proposal to build a 110m turbine on Porteous Hill, near Blueskin Bay, had grown “out of hand” and death threats had been made.

“Direct threats against members of our team have been made, and that has been distressing. Obviously some people must be upset to do things like that, but it has really got a bit out of hand.”

Mr Willis did not want to discuss in detail the threats, and who made them.

The group’s decision follows an Environment Court ruling which declined the proposal last month.

The Environment Court said the turbine was in “considerable tension” with the Dunedin City Council’s proposed district plan for energy resilience, particularly because it would have negative impacts on the significant natural landscape and local environment.

The decision to give up on the project, north of Dunedin, comes more than two years after a plan to build three turbines at the site, costing between $5million and $6million was suggested.

Despite vehement opposition from some neighbours of the proposed site, the decision to not take the Environment Court ruling to the High Court was difficult, Mr Willis said.

“It was a hard decision to make because there was potential for larger support from the wider sector for an appeal to the High Court.”

The ruling would push back community wind projects by “at least a decade”.

“We are still considering the findings and implications of the court decision but believe it has significant adverse implications for all efforts in New Zealand to democratise our energy system.”

The group was “perplexed” by the Environment Court’s conclusion “wind resource at this site is sub-optimal and there would appear to be other suitable alternative sites.”

Not many other sites had been considered, but turbine specialists had confirmed Porteous Hill was the best community site for wind, Mr Willis said.

Blueskin Energy Ltd director Tony Wilson said the point of the turbine was to help the community.

“Together we were seeking to provide a positive community contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building our local resilience in the face of climate change and sea level rise.”

The group would remain committed to sourcing local energy for the community, Mr Wilson said.