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Mercury Energy warned after breaching consents at Turitea wind farm construction site

Mercury Energy says it is disappointed in itself after it received two warnings about breaching resource consent at the construction of a new wind farm in Manawatū.

Horizons Regional Council records, presented to its environment committee in June, show Mercury was given two infringement notices for “discharge of sediment” and “unauthorised land disturbance”.

Horizons regulatory manager Greg Bevin​ said the breaches were found when council staff went to the Turitea wind farm construction site in January.

Mercury started building a new 60-turbine farm on the hills to the east of Palmerston North in November.

When finished, the $450 million project will be New Zealand’s biggest wind farm.

The notices were given after work took place in an area before proper environmental controls were in place and some controls were removed before proper sign-off was given, Bevin said.

Infringement notices are a way for enforcement officers to note breaches of resource consents and are often used for minor issues.

Major breaches can result in charges being laid in court.

Mercury project director Dennis Radich​ said the company was disappointed it didn’t reach the high standards it held itself to for protecting the environment.

“In this case we didn’t get it right.”

Although there was no damage to the environment as a result of the breaches, action had been taken to ensure the same thing did not happen again, he said.

The wind farm was a large and complex project, and Mercury was continuing to work with contractors to keep in line with consents and other commitments.

Radich also thanked Horizons for the attention its staff were giving to the site.

“The observation and subsequent notices in January, while disappointing to us, reflect the robust process administered by the council.”