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Kaimai Ranges wind farm plan seeks resource consents

After more than 10 years on the drawing board, a proposal for a 24 turbine wind farm on the northern Kaimai Ranges near Paeroa is seeking resource consents.

The $180 million Kaimai Wind Farm project has applied for resource consents from the Hauraki District Council and Waikato Regional Council for the construction, operation and maintenance of the large tubines on privately-owned farmland at Tirohia.

The application will be publicly notified, said the company.

The turbine hub height will be up to 132m with a rotor diameter of 146-160m. The farm will connect to the grid via existing 110kV power lines.

Kaimai Wind Farm owns Ventus Energy (NZ), wholly-owned by Glenn Starr, a former consulting engineer with Beca Carter who has worked on infrastructure projects overseas and has a particular interest in gas generation and wind power.

Starr is a board member of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association.

If approved, the operation phase of the project will be financed by Kaimai Wind Farm and private equity funding.

Analysis of the project has been underway since 2005 and has included geotechnical landscape, visual and noise studies and bird, bat and wildlife investigations.

The Resource Management Act application includes consents sought for an associated sub-station, access roads and overhead line structures.

The consent process will run until December with a hearing scheduled for September-October and a decision in December.

Financing is due to be completed in October next year with earthworks starting the following month and the first turbines delivered to the site in the second quarter of 2020, said the company.

The first power would be generated in the third quarter of 2020 with the project due for completion by mid 2021.

The company estimates economic benefits to New Zealand and the Waikato would be about $41m. The wind farm is also being promoted as increasing security of electricity supply for the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Plains.

The company proposes a range of measures to address residual adverse environmental effects including funds to support local restoration and rehabilitation of local ecology projects, particularly those for native bats, contribution to conservation management at the Miranda Shore Bird Centre, vegetation and visual buffering to help screen the turbines from some closer houses, and initiatives to assist tangata whenua and tourism.