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Wind farm wins sector award for environmental excellence

Meridian wind farm wins energy sector award for environmental excellence


For immediate release: 18 August 2011

Meridian Energy is delighted to be recognised for environmental excellence at the Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards for our best practice approach to constructing our Te Uku wind farm. The award is the second to recognise the outstanding environmental outcomes achieved by the project.

Environmental highlights for Te Uku include the successful management of a massive earthworks programme in some of the wettest weather conditions in the Waikato in 70 years, and working with the community to enhance ecologically important areas within the project site.

“We worked very closely with local contractors, iwi and other members of the community to tackle the environmental challenges for Te Uku, and today’s award is another welcome endorsement of what we were able to achieve together,” says Robert Batters, Project Manager for Te Uku.

To ensure high quality environmental outcomes Meridian drew on its experience of developing wind farms around New Zealand and working with its construction partners to find innovative solutions to address the project site’s unique challenges.

The scale of the earthworks for Te Uku was immense, involving the movement of over 700,000m3 cut to fill and cut to waste material. The development of the roading component of the project alone – 26 kilometres in total – made it one of the largest roading initiatives undertaken in the Waikato in the 2009/2010 period. These challenges were compounded by poor-quality soils prone to erosion.

To prevent water runoff from the earthworks impacting on the five streams and two wetlands within the project site Meridian created an extensive network of over 180 erosion and sediment controls. New construction methods were also used to reduce the volume of earthworks required.

Meridian’s management of the earthworks within stringent standards was recognised in the project receiving Environment Waikato’s inaugural earthworks Site of the Year Award.

“The earthworks were our greatest achievement from an environmental perspective. Not only were we able to ensure that water quality in the streams and wetlands was preserved, our compliance levels meant that we were granted special permission to continue work in challenging weather conditions, enabling us to meet project timeframes,” said Mr. Batters.

Meridian put a strong emphasis on local partnerships to achieve best practice environmental outcomes. This included working with Whaingaroa Harbour Care and Ngati Mahanga to plant 40,000 native plants on two wetlands within the wind farm site.

“The plantings meant that we left the project site in better condition ecologically than it was before the construction of the wind farm. A conscious choice to work with local groups rather than larger contractors from outside the area also means that we have helped to develop greater local capability in environmental restoration, which will have longer-term benefits,” said Mr. Batters.

Meridian Chief Executive Tim Lusk said the Energy Excellence Award caps off an outstanding project, which was completed in just under 16 months, two and a half weeks ahead of schedule.

“Meridian’s vision is to be the global reference company in renewable energy. This cannot be achieved without an industry-leading focus on minimising our impact on the environment. We’re proud to have achieved this for Te Uku while building strong community relationships and meeting our commercial objectives,” he said.

ENDS

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