- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Land access a problem for wind turbines on Stewart Island

Land access continue to delay a multi-million dollar renewable energy project on Stewart Island/Rakiura.

The Southland District Council has plans for turbines on the island and one of the two preferred sites is for Mamaku Point. The other preferred site is by the island’s airport.

But Mamaku Point Conservation Reserve trustee Roy Thompson said turbines would not be going on the most prominent ridge of the reserve.

“We have ruled it out and consequently they [council] have ruled it out,” Thompson said.

The proposal would have meant a two kilometre access road, and then turbine platforms, in a conservation reserve of 800-year-old podocarp forest, Thompson said.

However, the trust supported the replacement of diesel generators.

The generators use about 360,000 litres of diesel a year for the island of about 400 residents.

Technology was evolving and would “not rule out forever” smaller turbines in different locations, he said.

Thompson felt the turbines would be front-and-centre as people arrived at the island by boat or air and for people doing the Rakiura Track.

That was not a good outcome for the island or conservation, he said.

Council project delivery manager Nick Hamlin, in a report, says the pre-development phase of getting wind power on the island continues to work through securing land access.

Additional sites are also being considered.

His report will be presented to a council committee meeting on Wednesday.

In November 2019, $3.16m was granted to the project from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment director regional development south Kate Styles said the wind turbine project was still in a feasibility stage.

But a report presented to the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board in October says the project is off-track because of land access issues.

Working through the feasibility and construction phases would take time and the wind turbines were not expected to be in place and operational until at least 2023, Styles said.

When Minister for the Environment David Parker announced the $3.16m last year, he said there had been more than a dozen reports over the years into alternative energy sources for the island, but none had gone ahead.