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New Zealand

Last minute appeals lodged against 210 MW West Wind proposal

A number of last-minute appeals have been lodged against the notice of consent granted to Meridian Energy's 210 MW West Wind project on December 22. The appeals, coming in after the statutory 15 working-days allowed for them, caught Meridian by surprise -- it had believed it was through the consenting process (Windpower Monthly, March 2006). But extended end-of-year holidays in New Zealand gave additional time for appeals to be made to the country's Environment Court past January 31. First to file were the Quartz Hill Reserve Charitable Trust and the Makara Guardians Inc, two organisations long involved in opposing the wind farm. Before the consent was given, four independent commissioners studied the proposal for 70 Vestas V90 3 MW turbines on 55.8 square kilometres on Quartz Hill and Terawhiti Station near Wellington. As part of that process the plan went through an eight-week hearing that included a site visit to check noise and visual concerns. Meridian had originally investigated placing 107 turbines, but 37 of these caused concern. The commissioners were split over two further turbines, but the final consent granted approval for 70. Just over 4300 submissions to the planning process were received by the Wellington City Council. While most supported the project, over 800 opposed it. Ten appeals to the consent have now been made from individuals and environmental organisations, with one appeal filed by Meridian regarding a number of the consent requirements relating to traffic and construction effects. The Makara Guardians are concerned at the burgeoning enthusiasm for wind development in New Zealand, arguing there are better alternatives that do not have such an impact on landscape. They also cite concerns about the impact of a variable energy supply on the national grid.

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