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Fast-track wind farm upgrade tilted for Tararua skyline 

Credit:  Janine Rankin | Stuff | Apr 14 2022 | www.stuff.co.nz ~~

The Tararua skyline above Palmerston North is being measured up for more giant wind turbines.

NZ Windfarms is planning to repower the Te Rere Hau wind farm, replacing its 92 35-metre tall twin-bladed turbines with three-bladed turbines standing up to four times the height.

The company has applied for fast-track consents under the Covid-19 recovery legislations.

Environment Minister David Parker has signed off the application, which will need Cabinet approval.

If granted, the company will be able to apply to the Environment Protection Authority for resource consent, bypassing city council processes and hearings.

A panel would consider the application, and NZ Windfarms assured sahreholders the process was not an indication that consents would be granted.

But the proposal is causing deep concern for neighbour Mark Dawson, who lives just 1.1km away from the nearest turbines.

At the moment he cannot see them or hear them from his Forest Hill Rd property, as a forested ridgeline obscures the turbines.

But something four times the size was a worry, as they would loom 100m above the ridge, complete with aviation warning lights.

Dawson said there were council and resource management rules that already tilted too much power in favour of the wind farm operators and developers.

He said he was all in favour of renewable energy generation, and had lived without complaint as a neighbour for several years before he discovered there were controls that effectively stopped him from extending his home.

Dawson applied to the city council in November 2018 for a building consent to extend a studio unit next to the house to accommodate his father-in-law Raymond Reihana-Ruka.

After several weeks, he heard from the council that because he lived closer than 1.5km from a turbine, he would need NZ Windfarms consent for the extension.

But the price of consent, allowed under the city’s District Plan, would be having a no-complaints caveat placed on the property title binding the owners not to complain about wind farm activities to any authority, or solicit others to do so.

Dawson said the caveat was unconstitutional, a possible breach of the Treat of Waitangi, and beyond what was fair and reasonable.

“It would take away my rights to be able to speak.”

Dawson was concerned that neighbours who had agreed to a covenant being placed over their titles would not be permitted to make submissions opposing the repowering plan.

He would not agree to the gagging clause, and his only other option was to lodge his application for the building extension under the Resource Management Act, for a filing fee of $38,000.

The $70,000 building extension was abandoned.

NZ Windfarms chief executive Warren Koia cancelled a planned interview with Stuff.

He said it would be more appropriate to wait until after the decision on the fast-track referral was made.

However, NZ Windfarms had already made public statements that the new turbines would be larger and more efficient, would offer significant acoustic and visual advantages and significantly increase renewable electricity yields.

Source:  Janine Rankin | Stuff | Apr 14 2022 | www.stuff.co.nz

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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