A big neigh to wind farm plans

Those of us who are wary of windfarms can delight in the news that Contact Energy’s plan to build the biggest wind turbines in New Zealand have suffered a setback.

Electricity commissioners have turned down the company’s application to erect 65 of the turbines near Dannevirke, up the road from here in Eketahuna.

Among other things, the turbines would have scared the horses. Or so the objectors said.

According to the NBR:

Contact lodged a joint application to Tararua District and Horizons Regional Councils to erect the wind farm on a 3600 ha site in the Waitahora valley south east of Dannevirke, with the hearing into the case wrapping up last month.

At 150m tall, the turbines would have been the largest to be erected in this country, with a generational capacity of 177MW and likely annual generation in the range of 700GWh.

The company was planning to spend $500 million on the farm, which would have produced enough electricity to power up to 86,000 homes.

But commissioners Vern Chettelburgh, David Lea and Chris Mitchell have turned down the application after hearing nine days of submissions.

It seems the commissioners heard 25 submissions – 24 of them opposed the wind farm.

Submitters opposing the wind farm cited the effect on water quality in the area, doubts over the claimed economic benefits of the wind farm, the noise the farm would create, increased traffic during construction and the usual complaints of visual pollution.

The reaction of thoroughbred horses to wind turbines was also highlighted, with one submitter claiming the wind farm raised a “significant potential danger” to the health of horses on a nearby farm, as thoroughbreds were particularly susceptible to ‘flight’ reaction to perceived threats from unaccustomed sights and sounds.

Alf takes great satisfaction from learning that, when refusing all applications related to the consent, the commissioners said the wind farm had “significant potential adverse effects which are not fully understood”, so they could not be avoided or mitigated by conditions.

Mind you, they also said their decision related only to the current proposal and the information provided to support of it, and there was still an opening for a future wind farm proposal for this site which could be assessed differently.

Contact Energy – of course – is likely to appeal the decision.

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