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Puketiro wind farm proposal changed

Puketiro wind farm proposal changed

Greater Wellington Regional Council announced today that it has decided to revoke the permission granted to wind farm developer RES New Zealand Ltd to locate three turbines in the Battle Hill Farm Forest Park. The three turbines were part of a proposed Puketiro wind farm – a development of about 50 turbines located in the Greater Wellington-owned Akatarawa Forest and possibly on adjoining private land.

The Pauatahanui Futures Society Inc is seeking a High Court judicial review of Greater Wellington’s consultation processes associated with the proposed Puketiro wind farm.

“Information provided for consultation in 2005 included a map showing where the turbines could be placed. The boundary of the park as drawn on that map was the ‘working’ boundary. However, this did not align with the legal boundary line,” Greater Wellington’s chief executive Dave Benham said.

“The result was that the public were not made aware that some of the proposed turbines were actually inside the legal boundary of the Park.

“Greater Wellington unreservedly apologises for this error,” he said.

Although permission for the wind turbines on Battle Hill is withdrawn, the wind farm developer would still have access across Battle Hill to the adjoining Akatarawa Forest and potentially to privately owned land. The route would be generally in accordance with the provisions in the current (1992) park plan for forestry access and would be used for transporting materials, ongoing maintenance, buried cables and for erecting overhead electricity cables to connect the turbines with the national electricity grid. At times, wind turbine blades may also be in Battle Hill airspace even though the wind turbine towers are outside it.

Permission will also be issued to extend the numbers of turbines proposed for construction in the Akatarawa Forest.

“The revised Battle Hill Farm Forest Park Management Plan, which will specifically exclude wind turbines, will be released for public consultation later this year,” Dave Benham said.

The Resource Management Act provides significant further opportunity for the public to be involved in the decision on the wind farm when the developer, RES NZ Ltd, applies for resource consents for the project.

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Puketiro Wind Farm – Questions & Answers

Q1 Will there be turbines on Battle Hill Farm Forest Park?

A1 No. The Council has decided to withdraw permission for the three turbines that are proposed for the ridge in the Forest Park.

Q2 How will the Park be affected by the proposed Puketiro wind farm?

A2 Existing tracks and forestry roads on the eastern ridge area will be upgraded for wind farm access and wind farm cables will be buried beneath these roads. It is possible that road access will be required from Paekakariki Hill Road to the eastern ridge and overhead power lines down the forested slope to Transpower’s high voltage line.

Q3 Why has it been necessary to revisit the previous Council resolutions?

A3 Information provided for consultation in 2005 included a map showing where the turbines could be placed. The boundary of the park as drawn on that map was the “working” boundary. However, this did not align with the legal boundary line. The result was that the public were not made aware that some of the turbines were actually inside the legal boundary of the Park.

Q4 How do these changes affect the contract with RES?

A4 The Council will be negotiating with RES to change the land areas for wind turbines that can be included in the contract.

Q5 When will a resource consent be lodged for development of the Puketiro wind farm?

A5 The decision on the timing of a resource consent application will be made by RES following completion of all information for the application, including the proposed turbine layout and access routes. The latest information from RES is that this is some months away.

Q6 How many turbines are proposed for the Puketiro wind farm?

A6 The number of turbines proposed will depend on the extent that private land is included in the proposal by RES. Indications are that there will be about 50 turbines.

Q7 What costs will GWRC ratepayers have to face if this wind farm proceeds?

A7 Greater Wellington is not investing in this wind farm. There will, however, be minor costs as the landowner associated with supporting this development including Council officers’ time.

Q8 When will the Battle Hill Farm Forest Park Management Plan be completed?

A8 It is expected that a further draft of the Management Plan will be put to Council for approval to carry out public consultation prior to the end of this calendar year.

ENDS

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