Wind power is one of our major renewable energy sources. But to date dialogue has been limited on such key issues as how New Zealand is developing wind power, what lies behind people's concerns about it, and its place in our energy future.
New Zealand is expanding its wind power, and we have many good sites. Over 80% of us support it in principle. But it is expanding in ways that are causing tensions in some communities.
We are using the same model we used for hydro in the 1960s and gas and coal in the 1980s: large-scale and dominated by Government agencies. Little opportunity exists for people to invest in wind farms, or for smaller-scale developments, or for local community ownership.
Local ownership creates a more intimate link between a community and its energy, and will give people some sense of controlling their energy future. Such a shift would sit well the growing potential to expand the supply of energy from smaller-scale renewable sources.
This indepth 142-page report looks at many dimensions of wind power including its contribution to sustainable energy; New Zealand developments to date; international trends; impacts on landscapes and communities; legal and policy frameworks; and case studies from Auckland, Wellington, and Manawatu.
Summary of recommendations
* Investment in smaller-scale, distributed wind farms and turbines needs to be encouraged
* New Zealand's potential for community-owned wind power should be investigated
* Government should provide local authorities with guidance on planning for wind farm development, and managing tensions that arise from it
* Wind farms in or near coastal environments, conservation land, and historic and heritage sites need particular attention
* Regional authorities need to take a lead with a more proactive, strategic approach to wind power
* EECA reporting on public attitudes to wind power needs to be expanded
* Local bodies should use their long-term planning processes to get community input on wind farm development
* Regional authorities should take a leadership role in landscape management
* The Ministry for the Environment should develop a nationally consistent approach to landscape assessment that local authorities can use.
See the full report (attached pdf file) for the complete recommendations to each Minister.
Summary of key findings
Wind farms will only ever occupy a very small proportion of New Zealand's landscapes, but they can have significant localised effects. We could also learn a lot from how other countries, particularly in Europe, are developing their wind power.
More conclusions from Wind power, people, and place can be found in the accompanying summary of key findings (attached pdf file).