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Residents blow cold on turbines

Hastwell Protection Society chair Chris Clarke has taken his concerns about the proposed Mt Munro wind farm to Masterton District Council, adding that the group is “totally unimpressed” with Meridian Energy.

Speaking for a “collective of people that live around the base of Mt Munro”, which is on the boundary between the Masterton and Tararua Districts, Clarke canvassed the group’s concerns about their health and the environment.

The Mt Munro wind farm is set to be built eight kilometres south of Eketāhuna and will comprise 20 turbines that generate up to 300-gigawatt hours of energy a year – enough to power about 42,000 homes.

Clarke said Meridian’s consent applications for the project – lodged with Masterton District Council, Tararua District Council, Horizons Regional Council, and Greater Wellington Regional Council – state that 326 heavy and 50 light vehicles will be travelling to and from the site each day, a total of 672 trips.

“And that will have a huge impact on residents.”

He said core concerns about the project centre on safety, the implications for local schools, cyclists, and damage that could be caused to
“already vulnerable” roads.

“And there are probably some considerable health issues that go with it because of dust, noise, and the risk to children.”

Clarke acknowledged that wind power is one of the solutions to reducing dependency on “carbon-centric” electricity generation: “However, I think there are some factors that are not always considered… we’re not actually anti-windmills, but we do really think there are considerable implications.”

He said Meridian has met with some residents, but the company has not answered the society’s concerns about the ongoing social impact the project could have on the community.

“Despite their claims, and I’ve asked this directly of senior Meridian staff, they have said that they will not do a social impact assessment.”

Meridian’s Head of Renewable Development, Rebecca Knott, told the Times-Age that the company has been “in correspondence” with the Hastwell Protection Society and has responded to all questions regarding the proposed wind farm.

“We acknowledge that health effects could potentially arise as a result of matters such as traffic movements, noise, and dust if these are not properly controlled, but Meridian’s approach is to ensure that all necessary controls are in place and the widely
accepted standards are met.”

Clarke said that the society is “totally unimpressed” with Meridian’s conduct towards them and the “disrespect given to us as a community”.

He said the society has not seen Meridian’s explanation of how they would mitigate the health and social impacts the wind farm project would cause.

Knott said that there will be a public submission process after the application has been notified by the consenting authorities and encouraged anyone who would like information or has feedback to get involved.

Knott reiterated the Mt Munro wind farm would generate enough electricity annually to power over 40,000 homes.

Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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