Work resumes at Mercury’s $465 million Turitea Wind Farm on Wednesday with activity moving to the southern, second stage of the development.
The site on the Tararua Range above Palmerston North has been closed since before Christmas, apart from security and environmental checks.
The northern section of 33-turbines was virtually complete, with sediment control ponds being removed and the landscape reinstated.
But while that part of the project was running smoothly, the southern section, which will include 27 turbines, is proving challenging.
For one, contractors would be more dependant than originally envisaged when resource consents were granted a decade ago on gaining access through Kahuterawa Rd and Greens Rd.
Mercury looked at creating an off-road route, but that plan did not work out.
Mercury has applied to the Palmerston North City Council to vary the conditions of the consent, and submissions have since closed.
Access to the southern stage from the northern end was a much longer journey, and with the Manawatū Gorge Rd closed, the Pahīatua Track was much busier and less appropriate as a roading link.
The limits on the roads to the south allowed 60 light vehicles a day, and 34 truck movements a day, up to 5800 over the whole construction period.
Mercury wants that increased to 150 truck movements and 150 light vehicle movements a day, or 22,000 truck movements in total through the construction period of 12 months.
The consent application also included a raft of recommended improvements to the route to make it safer for all users.
Secondly, the transmission towers and lines that connect the wind farm to the national grid have been creating noise issues for nearby residents.
Mercury’s end-of-year community update acknowledged it was taking a frustratingly long time to identify and fix the problems.
First the wind direction and conditions had to be right to assess the noise, then the wind needed to drop to make it safe to do any work, and then the conditions needed to return to assess success.
Contractor Electrix had installed noise dampening equipment on the lower and upper parts of the poles, which had helped, and put in additional blanking plates on the cross-arms of one pole to see whether that solution would work for the rest.
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