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Meridian blows wind power's reputation

Monday 29 August 2005

Meridian blows wind power's reputation

Meridian Energy is giving New Zealand wind power a bad name.

Instead of acknowledging the limitations of wind power given overseas experience, Meridian Energy appears to be trying to hide these facts from the New Zealand public.

For instance, Meridian must be aware that wind "farms" were voted the most hated eyesore in the British countryside, (-Country Life magazine November 2003), and they have been described as the "highly subsidised destruction of the landscape" in Germany, (-Der Spiegel, 29 March 2004).

In an attempt to bolster up its consent application for the wind farm proposal at Makara, Meridian has also misinformed the New Zealand public and as a result Makara Guardians has filed complaints with both the Commerce Commission and the Chief Ombudsman.

When the whole of New Zealand has good wind flows and is internationally recognised for its landscapes, Meridian is doing the country a disservice by only pushing, while also exaggerating, the benefits of wind power.

125 metre high turbines, placed between 750 -1700 metres from 125 private homes which are almost all downwind of the prevailing wind from the proposed site, is not the answer. Meridian knows that its smaller turbines at Te Apiti are noisy for the people of Ashhurst who live at least 2500 metres away.

At Makara, Meridian plans to desecrate pristine beaches, and put 40 of its turbines, (each 10 storey's higher than Wellington's State Insurance Building at 1 Willis street), on important ridgelines and hilltops. Another 30 turbines include many in the coastal environment. Earthworks involved: 1.7 million cubic metres on erosion-prone lands. Silting would affect the food chain for the Hector dolphin, and orcas, affect spawning grounds and paua beds.

The public needs to wake up to this fact before it is too late. If the Makara proposal goes ahead it will create a dangerous precedent. Wind power can play a part in meeting the country's energy needs but it has to respect the interests of people and the value of landscapes.

Those with a vested interest in Meridian's proposal at Makara will no doubt be claiming its benefits at the Wind Energy Conference which starts in Wellington tomorrow.

Those who care about New Zealand should give Meridian's proposal closer scrutiny.

Meridian is not telling the whole story.


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