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Proposed wind farm is back on the table

A new consent for Genesis Energy’s Castle Hill wind farm could see it shift further into the Masterton District.

The proposed changes were discussed at the Masterton District Council’s [MDC] Infrastructure and Services Committee meeting on Wednesday.

The agenda said that Genesis Energy planned to change conditions and extend the time frame of its existing consent for Castle Hill.

Committee chair David Holmes asked for further explanation.

MDC planning manager Christine Chong said a consent change would mean that most of the wind farm would be in Masterton District rather than Tararua District.

Castle Hill, previously planned to be built 20km northeast of Masterton, would be the largest wind farm in the country if Genesis goes ahead with the project.

In 2011, when Genesis applied for resource consent, the Times-Age reported the project could provide 185 jobs during construction and 40 ongoing jobs.

The project was also forecast to bring $247 million into the Masterton and Tararua districts.

The Times-Age reported in January that Genesis Energy noted in its 2022 annual report that it was investigating the possibility of a resource consent extension for a wind farm at Castle Hill, which was approved by the Environment Court in 2013 and is due to expire this year.

The Castle Hill wind farm could double Genesis Energy’s annual renewable electricity generation and would be the biggest wind farm built in New Zealand for the past nine years – generating the equivalent power produced by at least 850,000 tonnes of coal each year.

At the time the consent was granted, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said the project was a “major boost to our continued confidence in renewables” and showed that “companies are clearly willing to invest in progressing cost-effective options to meet New Zealand’s future electricity needs”.

Chong said although the consent allowed 300 wind turbines to be built on the site, this has not happened.

“They have now asked in a joint application to the regional councils and territorial authorities to re-consider extending the timeframe for that, as well as changing some of the conditions of the previously received consent,” said Chong, who also noted Genesis Energy had been referred to the Environment Court, which granted the first consent.

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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