Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Highly dubious

Palmerston North is in the throes of another wind-farm battle, this time over Allco's proposed Motorimu wind farm near Linton. The proposal would see 127 turbines stretching from Linton to Tokomaru, and the locals are going feral about the usual issues of noise and visual impact. Unusually, though, they have the support of the council, which has demanded the removal of 45 turbines on the basis of their "cumulative visual impact". The interesting part is that they have included in their assessment of that impact their own windfarm in the Turitea reserve - a windfarm which not yet been consented, let alone built, and which is currently tied up in a legal battle to determine whether they can rezone a reserve in this way.

This is highly dubious, on a number of levels. The inclusion of the Turitea proposal in the assessment is contrary to usual practice under the RMA, which rightly ignores unconsented possible future activities. And of course there's the obvious point that if Motorimu goes ahead as planned, Turitea could end up failing due to its cumulative visual impact. In other words, the council is protecting its business interests, and those of its partner Mighty River Power, by trying to reserve visual space for its project before it has even applied for resource consent.

You don't have to hate the RMA or windfarms to see that this stinks. Mighty River has bought my local government, and it has now trying to corrupt the resource consent process against its competitors. The sooner the councillors responsible are held democratically accountable for this, the better.