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Environment Court Confirms Mahinerangi Windfarm

Environment Court Confirms Mahinerangi Windfarm

The Environment Court has confirmed the resource consent conditions for TrustPower's proposed Mahinerangi Windfarm.

TrustPower had been granted resource consents for a 200MW wind farm, with a maximum of 100 turbines each with a maximum height of 145 metres.

These consents were appealed by Contact Energy and The Uplands Landscape Protection Society. Both appeals were dismissed, but the Court ordered TrustPower to further refine its wind farm layout by specifying detailed turbine locations, and allowed Uplands to make submissions on the revised layout.

Amongst submissions made by Uplands, all effectively rejected by the Court, was a suggestion that TrustPower reduce the number of turbines to 40, each of 6MW, or three to four times the per unit output proposed by TrustPower.

TrustPower's Community Relations Manager, Graeme Purches, said TrustPower found that suggestion especially odd, given that one of the Uplands Landscape Protection Society's key concerns was the wind farm's visual impact on the landscape, as implied in the Society's name.

"The turbines Upland's suggested would be more suitable have enormous 112 metre long blades covering a swept area of 9,800 square metres or 2 acres, and would be at least 15 metres taller, meaning they would have been even more visible, and from even greater distances. Apart from the fact there are no cranes in New Zealand capable of lifting these beasts, because of the length of their blades and towers and the weight of the nacelles, there would be no way of actually transporting them to the site."

My Purches says TrustPower will now assess the economic viability of the project, with a view to being in a position to proceed when economic conditions gel.

"There are a number of issues to be resolved before construction can proceed. The current exchange rate makes it difficult to purchase turbines unless that changes or the turbine price falls dramatically, and in addition to that there are still issues around charges for the HVDC link, which projects like this currently have to pay even though the energy generated will be used locally."

In its decision, the Environment court has signalled that costs will be the subject of a separate decision. TrustPower, the Clutha District Council and the Otago Regional council have filed applications for costs totalling more than $30,000 against the Uplands Landscape Protection Society.


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