Monday, October 09, 2006

Sharpening the mind

Something I missed while down in Wellington: currently, Palmerston North City Council has crawled into bed with Mighty River Power in an effort to develop a windfarm on a city reserve behind Massey University. It's a deeply unpopular move (though not quite as unpopular as the Regional Council deciding the Manawatu River should be Fonterra's sewer), and submissions at the recent public hearings on the plan have been overwhelmingly negative. And now it finally seems to be sinking in to some on the city council. Despite the fact that the issue under discussion at this stage is the narrow question of whether the reserve's purpose and management plan should be changed to allow renewable electricity generation, rather than whether there will be a wind farm, the chair of the committee hearing the issue has come to the same conclusion as the public: that the two issues are inseparable, at least politically:

Cr Claridge says the real arguments that people are most interested in, such as how many wind turbines, where they will be and what damage they will do, will pass to hearings under the Resource Management Act under an independent commissioner and that seems wrong.

"A lot of councillors now have serious concerns about the whole matter. I don't think, myself, that we can leave it to the resource consent process.

"We, as politicians, will be held to account. The general feeling in council is we have responsibility for it."

It's just amazing how upcoming local body elections can sharpen the mind. Now we just have to hope that the fear of being held to account by the public at the ballot box will sharpen it more than Mighty River's frankly corrupt offer of cash to the city council in exchange for the reserve's purpose being changed...