Wed, 15 Sep 2004
Environmental group likely to support power company on windfarm appeal
Genesis Energy has just had resource consent for its proposed Awhitu Windfarm turned down by planning commissioners appointed by the Franklin District Council. The proposal involved the construction of 19 wind turbines at Awhitu on the coast south of the Manukau Heads.
Responding to the decision, Environmental Defence Society Chairman Gary Taylor expressed "considerable surprise" at the outcome.
"The decision seems to say that local landscape effects and effects on horses are more important than the national and international interest in renewable energy," said Mr Taylor.
"Whilst local considerations are relevant and must be properly taken into account, the Resource Management Act was recently amended to prioritise renewable energy. That was done because the biggest environmental problem facing the world today is climate change which will cause more adverse weather events in New Zealand along with sea level rise. It is very much in the interest of coastal communities to support renewable energy projects because those communities are in the front line of climate change effects.
"It is therefore ironic that local interests have overridden the big picture here.
"In our view, New Zealanders need to decide whether they are prepared to accept the visual effects of windfarms or accept more coal-based generation with its much more adverse local and international effects. In our view any opportunities for windfarms to displace coal should be taken and Genesis is to be congratulated for attempting to do so.
"The weight attached to the effects on horses in the decision is in the realm of the bizarre. The national interest in renewable energy is apparently less important than potentially disturbing some horses, according to the Commissioners.
"EDS will properly review the decision and its Board of Directors will decide whether to support any appeal that Genesis Energy may take to the Environment Court. It is likely that we will decide to do so," Mr Taylor concluded.