Friday, February 11, 2011

Turitea windfarm partially consented

Back in 2006, the Palmerston North City Council climbed into bed with Mighty River Power to develop a wind farm in the Turitea Reserve behind Massey University. In addition to supplying water to the city, the reserve is also a large area of remnant native forest, inhabited by various native birds, including Kereru, Tui, and the rare New Zealand Falcon. The Council bent over backwards to help Mighty River, abusing the law to add "renewable energy generation" as a purpose of the reserve; in exchange, it was paid "milestone payments" by Mighty River (and would earn more when consent was granted).

When consent time came, however, the government called it in to a Board of Inquiry. Not because they were concerned about a local government that was transparently for sale, I must add - but because Nick Smith wanted to show he was serious about amending the RMA to allow this sort of project to be rammed through. Now that board has reported back. And the news is not good for Mighty River. Consent has been granted for only 61 of 105 (originally 120) turbines. And this may threaten the viability of the project.

Here's hoping. I support wind energy - but not when it comes at the cost of clearfelling native bush to generate it. As I noted when the issue first came up, there is plenty of space elsewhere in the Tararuas which does not require this sort of environmental vandalism. I'd like to see more windfarms there, so that they benefit the environment, rather than degrading it.