I live at Ashhurst in the Manawatu, where we are surrounded by the first large wind farms established in New Zealand. TrustPower, operates the existing Tararua Wind Farm of over 100 of 650kW turbines. This will shortly be added to with 46 3 MW turbines of 90 metre diameter. Meridian Energy operate the Te Apiti wind farm above Ashhurst on the Ruahine Ranges which consists of 55 of 1.6 MW turbines of 70 metre diameter. In addition consent has been granted for another 100 two bladed New Zealand sourced windmills at Te Rere Hau next along the Tararua Ranges from the existing Tararua wind farm. The Palmerston North City Council are working with Mighty River Power for another wind farm proposal on reserve water catchment land at Turitea. Evergreen have just recently announced a project for yet another wind farm above Linton and Tokomaru.
A group called Aokautere Guardians was formed in a campaign to fight the establishment of the Te Rere Hau wind farm. After a little success in that battle, attention shifted to Tararua III proposed by TrustPower. These are 90 metre turbines sitting on 65 m towers. Aokautere Guardians, together with others, fought a great campaign and managed to convince the Commissioners to remove some turbines which would be intrusive and impose various noise restrictions. By agreement, prior to Environment Court hearings, additional conditions and extensions were made to the original consent decision. Since that time, the experience gained of the consent processes and arguments used in hearings to grant consents have been shared with others in Auckland, Wellington and Hawke’s Bay.
Issues with Windmills
There are a number of identified issues with wind farms and their operation. I have listed some of the common ones below with a brief description of the identified problems.