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Another proposal puts wind up locals

A proposal to build 11 wind turbines on Tararua turf is attracting pushback from some local residents.

Malaysia-based Yinson Renewables is seeking to build the turbines on a 612 hectare site between Tararua Rd and Ballance Rd on the eastern flanks of the northern Tararua Range, about 10 kilometres southeast of Palmerston North and 6km west of the Pahiatua township.

Pahiatua resident Dion Kilmister – who lives on MakoMako Rd and is among those unhappy about the prospect – said the “massive” windmills would be “intrusive” for many residents in the area and result in a dramatic change for the community.

“It’s just not right,” he said.

Kilmister said Yinson’s proposal is harming people’s mental health – including causing “emotional stress” – as well as eroding the equity of their property.

He estimated there are already 314 turbines on wind farms surrounding three sides of Pahiatua and said the area doesn’t need any more.

Kilmister claimed a meeting run by Yinson that he attended in mid-March “really wasn’t about the people at all”.

“They were just gaslighting us, ticking boxes” and “didn’t want to listen to us,” he said.

There were about 120 people in the crowd, around half of whom were opposed to the proposal, according to Kilmister, who described the meeting as “heated at times”, with two women having a “crying moment” and another saying she had already lost $180,000 of property value due to previous windfarm developments in the area.

Kilmister is in the process of forming a MakoMako group to oppose the proposal along with fellow local Gareth Bestor.

“This government is pushing forward wind farms, and they are prepared to put them anywhere,” he said.

“They care more about a lizard than they care about the people.”

Kilmister said he believes part of the problem is that – unlike many district councils across New Zealand – Tararua District Council has no proximity rules, which meant wind turbines could technically “show up on anyone’s doorstep”.

In addition to the wind turbine developments, he said, Mercury Energy has consent to build pylons through Makomako Rd, which will further devalue nearby properties without compensation.

Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick attended the recent meeting and noted it was good to “hear directly from residents”.

“I have been at the proposed site and in contact with people from around the area over recent months and weeks,” Butterick said.

“I am certainly aware of their concerns.

“It was great to see so many from the community there and that really does highlight the level of anxiety and the desire for engagement.

“It was disclosed at the meeting that a likely application is imminent in the next week or two, and if this goes ahead, this consent application will be heard on the previous government’s fast-track process.

“I fully support renewable energy, in terms of wind power; however, it does need to be the right windmill in the right place.”

Yinson Renewables New Zealand manager Trevor Nash said the wind farm, which is still in the design phase, “takes into account the potential impacts and concerns of neighbouring and nearby residents”.

The plan had “already changed in relation to specific community feedback”, he said.

“In the present design, the closest turbine to a residence is approximately 1370m away.”

Various independent expert assessments have been commissioned to cover “noise, visual concerns, ecological, cultural, and social issues”.

Nash said Yinson has also held “engagement processes including face-to-face meetings and briefings, an open email and phone line, and community events”.

He noted that the first step is the Referral Application, which Yinson aimed to lodge soon.

If accepted, the project would be referred to the fast-track process, and the Resource Consent Application lodged in August 2024, he said.

The process would involve a diverse panel of relevant experts being appointed, with the potential to accept submissions from representatives for the “public interest”.

Nash confirmed Yinson is engaging with both Horizons Regional Council and Tararua District Council regarding the wind turbine proposal.

A Horizon District Council spokesperson told the Times-Age it became aware of Yinson’s proposal in August 2023 and that pre-application meetings have commenced.

“The first meeting was a very brief and high-level overview”, and “nothing had been decided”.

The council’s environment committee is accepting public submissions.

1 COMMENT

  1. New Zealanders are going to look back at wind turbines and solar power farms and EV VEHICLES AND say WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY ON GREEN BREAMERS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS ALL ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE 🙄. ALL OF STUPID IDEAS 💡 🙄 HAVE A SHORT LIFESPAN AND NOT RECYCLABLE.

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