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Plans back on track to deliver turbine blades to Turitea Wind Farm

Mercury and its turbine suppliers Vestas have solved a major challenge for the Turitea Wind Farm – how to get the 55-metre-long blades up the hill.

From Palmerston North and New Plymouth, they will be hauled up Centre Rd, through two existing wind farms on to North Range Rd and across the Pahīatua Track to the site.

A new plan was needed after the first 99 12-tonne blades for the 60-turbine, $465 million project arrived in New Zealand through New Plymouth rather than Napier.

That prompted a re-think about how to get them up to the Tararua ridges from the western or Palmerston North-side of the hills, rather than from the east.

Construction of a new road to by-pass an s-bend on the Pahīatua Track had to be abandoned after a large land slip.

Mercury generation development manager Dennis Radich said he was pleased Vestas was making progress on a new route.

“I’m looking forward to this being resolved, and seeing blades coming in the gate.”

A Vestas spokesman said negotiations had been complex, involving the Palmerston North City Council, Horizons Regional Council, Tilt, NZ Windfarms and landowners.

The blades would travel on over-dimensional trailers from Rangitīkei St, Keith St and New Plymouth along State Highway 3 to Ashhurst, across the Manawatū River bridge, along State Highway 57 and up Centre Rd.

They would then travel along tracks through the standing turbines and on to the public North Range Rd to the summit of the Pahīatua Track.

Roadworks were starting to improve some contours, and to even out dips and bumps for a smooth ride, with delivery expected in April.

Components to complete the wind farm are now in the country, however 12 nacelles and 11 hubs were destroyed in a ship fire at the Port of Napier in December and would need to be replaced.

Radich said those items were for the southern group of 27 turbines, the second stage of the development which Mercury decided would go ahead six months after committing to the northern stage.

So far 31 of the foundations for the northern group of 33 turbines were prepared, 12 towers had been erected, and six stood as “hammer heads” ready for the generators and blades.