Two weeks after Mercury announced it would start building Palmerston North’s Turitea wind farm in August, nearby neighbours are still waiting to hear any detail about how it will affect them.
Kahuterawa Rd resident Stephen Hoskins, who bought into the area 18 months ago, did not even know his property would have turbines nearby and be in the path of the wind farm’s transmission line.
He said there was nothing on the LIM report for the property, and no real estate agents or neighbours told him what could happen.
He and others said they want to move out.
“If they offered to buy me out, I would be gone,” he said.
“This will be no longer the rural-residential area I bought in to.”
A Mercury spokesperson said the power company would welcome opportunities to communicate with residents.
It had already had a meeting with landowners directly affected.
The resource consent required Mercury to set up a community liaison group before major work began, and more details about how that would work would be available in a few weeks.
“We are determined to be open with the sharing of information, and are in the process of establishing channels that will help us in that regard.”
Many Turitea neighbours had been quietly getting on with their lives since resource consent for the 60-turbine wind farm was issued in 2011, increasingly confident it was never going to happen.
Fleetwood Lane resident Cynthia Alexander said she felt “blind-sided” by the announcement.
“I feel very upset. I can’t see ourselves staying up there.”
The residents worries ranged from traffic management on the narrow, winding, hilly roads during construction to the impact on the landscape, and the effects of noise, vibration and strobing – a visual disturbance as the turbines’ blades catch and reflect the sunlight.
Kahuterawa Rd resident Pru Robbie said what was then Mighty River Power had applied for 120 turbines, and said a scaled-down 60-turbine wind farm would not be economic.
She hoped that meant it would not go ahead.
“Then suddenly, five minutes before the consent runs out, we read in the newspaper that it’s going ahead.”
Hoskins said he wanted to hear from the city council about what it was going to do to look after ratepayers near the wind farm.
Council chief customer and operating officer Chris Dyhrberg said the consents team would monitor and enforce the resource consent conditions.
“We will be doing everything we can to try and meet their proposed timeframes.”
Monitoring some of the conditions would be the responsibility of Horizons Regional Council and Tararua District Council.
City council chief executive Heather Shotter said the development of the renewable energy project was positive for the city, and it would return income to the council for allowing Mercury to use the Turitea Reserve.
The income would be tagged to preservation of city reserves.
She said it was too early to speculate on how much money would be paid, but when the figure was known, probably in about six months, it would be publicly released.
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