Introduction & Timeline of Events:
Meridian Energy Limited (MEL) a state owned enterprise, sought and obtained consents for two wind monitoring masts on the Hihitahi Plateau in 2006 in preparation for a proposed wind farm in the area. MEL subsequently sought resource consent in 2008 for Project Central Wind (PCW) – a 47 square kilometre site located east of SH1 between Waiouru and Taihape and just north of Moawhango. The site covered six farm properties and sits within three local government jurisdictions – Rangitikei District, Ruapehu District, and Manawatu-Wanganui (Horizons) Region. Consent was sought for the construction of 52 x 135m turbines and ancilliary works. Consent with some conditions was granted 11 February 2009. One of those conditions was that the consent would only be valid for five years to limit the uncertainty for surrounding property owners. MEL had sought ten years. Rangitikei Guardians Inc opposed the consent at the Environment Court during September 2009. The Environment Court confirmed the resource consent for Project Central Wind on 27 January 2010, despite the Crown acknowledging the “compelling evidence presented by the Guardians against the project”. The Environment Court cited ‘national interest’ for more electricity generation as the reason.
Meridian Energy was granted a one year extension to their consent in early 2014 because the Rangitikei District Council deemed that MEL had lost a year due to the Environment Court Appeal. One landowner pulled out of the project around that time – resulting in the reduction of the project by four turbines. Then despite no ‘significant progress’ on the building of the wind farm before or since that extension, which was one of the legal tests for granting an extension, and by MEL’s reckoning only 1.5% of the budgetted cost having been expended, MEL recently sought and obtained in June 2015, a further five year extension from Rangitikei District Council – who neither sought nor were offered by MEL any evidence that the SOE had in fact expended the $4.6million they claimed over the previous six years. At this stage it is unknown whether Ruapehu and Horizons have decided whether or not to grant the extension of consent to MEL. It is believed that the councillors of these two bodies will not get a chance to make the decision, which will be left to staff members of those councils to decide.
By Madalene Frost http://www.pukekaka.com/modules.php?name=Articles
Updates will be added here as they’re available and for further information and articles on Project Central Wind and the many health and environmental risks associated with wind farms, visit the website: http://www.pukekaka.com/index.php
MERIDIAN ENERGY IS PERSISTING IN ITS QUEST TO GAIN AN EXTENSION OF TIME FOR PROJECT CENTRAL WIND. RDC BUCKLED, THOUGH SOME BRAVE COUNCILLORS SAID “NO”, DESPITE PRESSURE NOT TO. COUNCILLORS IN RUAPEHU AND HORIZONS REGION DON’T APPEAR TO EVEN BE GETTING A CHANCE TO VOTE! COUNCIL STAFF ARE BELIEVED TO BE MAKING THE DECISION. IS THAT WHAT DEMOCRACY HAS COME DOWN TO?
Project Central Wind as it was consented, and would be seen from 17kms away at Pukeokahu. NB turbines shown in front of the mountain are out, due to the pullout of the one land owner. Meridian could possibly change the 135m turbines to newer 3-4 MW ones which are a third higher, to compensate for this loss.
What does one top environmentalist think about wind farms?
“It beggars belief that some environmental groups can say they are ‘green’.” Professor David Bellamy
Uncertainty for the people of Moawhango if Meridian Energy is granted a further extension to their resource consent.
The original commission into PCW decided that five years was long enough for the start of the windfarm, in order to avoid ongoing uncertainty for residents in Moawhango. Meridian Energy with the might of the state behind it, have now thumbed their nose at the both the Commission and Moawhango residents by seeking, and obtaining from Rangitikei DC, a further five year extension. RDC neither showed, nor sought, any proof, from Meridian, that substantive progress has been made, and concluded “there was no unacceptable uncertainty from the delay of physical construction of the PCW wind farm” – this was based on contacting just 11 Moawhango people who had sought consents since the decision to allow PCW, of whom only five actually knew about the consent for the wind farm. The 2013 census showed there were 243 occupied dwellings in Moawhango (the 11 whom council staff spoke to represent only 4.5% of those). This is hardly substantial proof of “no unacceptable uncertainty from the delay.” Meridian conceded when questioned at the RDC meeting, that the $4.6million spent represented only 2-3% of the total budgeted cost of the project. By any rational test is this ‘substantial’ expenditure?
How the state owned power companies win at any cost
Meridian Energy as a state owned company can out-appeal any local group into submission. It makes sure councils know it will do this. To gain support for PCW Meridian bought off Iwi, DOC, Defence, and even treated politicians to a night at the ballet. In other circumstances and jurisdictions such practices would be considered corrupt. Allowing the extension sets a draconian precedent, nationwide, for locking up huge tracts of land until a wind farm developer, is ready to use it. Meridian have already pressured councils around NZ to alter their District Plans in MEL’s favour. Do they or ratepayers ‘own’ the councils?
Lack of local support for PCW
Of local submissions, 80% from Taihape opposed the wind farm. Of distant submitters who supported PCW, most were form letters from an orchestrated campaign by a wind industry representative, at two meetings of supposedly green organisations in Wellington.
Rural opposition discounted
Meridian, wrote off those who would be impacted by the visual pollution, noise, and environmental damage from wind turbines, as “just a few shepherds and farmers”. Councillors would do well to consider that those “few shepherds and farmers” have long memories and contribute hugely to the region’s economy: providing massive contributions to local rates; spending big money at local businesses; supporting fee paying schools in the region; and producing NZ’s biggest income earning exports..
Wind is not an efficient source of electricity
Not even one household could get all the electricity it needs, from each hectare of land to be littered with PCW turbines. No conventional power station has ever been decommissioned anywhere in the world due to the establishment of wind farms; The government’s own infrastructure advisers confirmed this year the need to retain thermal power stations in order to back up wind, due to its unpredicatability and the subsequent risk to the frequency of the grid. And combined wind farms in New Zealand reach only around 11% of their claimed output.
Nor is wind power a sustainable carbon neutral technology
It takes up to 16 years to amortise the carbon costs of a wind turbine – at least half its useful life. The excavations and concrete alone for the foundations of PCW will displace nearly 50,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. Plus the carbon cost of producing the steel used, and the transport of the hundreds of 7 tonne blades, the towers, the nacelles and the generators, across the world from Europe and Scandinavia, on diesel powered ships!
New Zealand has the highest, domestic use of electricity in the world
The NZ Statistics Dept, has ascertained that a Kiwi home uses 35 kilowatt-hours each day on average, compared to: 12 -13 kilowatt-hours daily for most Europeans, and around 31 KWHrs for Americans. Why? Because we heat our hot water mainly by electricity in large water cylinders, rather than by other means. The Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority has ascertained we could reduce our electricity consumption by up to 50% and reduce the need for further generation capacity, solely if we used solar power to heat hot water. MEL’s own recent figures show that if a million domestic roofs had 2.5kw capacity of photovoltaic cells feeding back into the grid that would be a yearly contribution of 342megawatts.
Ongoing demand for electricity?
NZ has a glut of energy, so there is no longer a ‘national interest’ to justify building inefficient wind farms – which was the reason given by the Environmental Court for allowing the appealed consent. This is confirmed by the governments’s own National Infrastructue Unit in its 2015 report. This unit debunks MEL’s claim of an ongoing increase in demand of 2.1%, citing the effects of El Ninjo on dairy farming for the current blip. It also disputes MEL’s claim that demand growth is related to GDP increases. In fact it finds that “as GDP increases, the correlation of energy demand growth to GDP growth appears to be declining”. So don’t believe everything MEL says to justify the need for this project to be land banked into an undetermined future.
Cultural, scientific, tourism, health, amenity, and ecological issues were all ignored in the so-called ‘national interest’ at the Environment Court appeal brought by the Rangitikei Guardians. Meridian only want PCW on the Hihitahi Plateau, because the transmission lines are already in place, even though the wind doesn’t blow there 25% of the time! The project will be on the snowline geological fault. It will be seen from the dual world heritage Tongariro National Park. Wind turbines catch fire and can leak toxic lubricating compounds – polluting streams and harbours. Up to date research is proving now that people’s health is affected by proximity to wind turbines. Over a 100 at-risk species will be compromised by PCW – including internationally listed endangered native falcons which will risk death 29% of the time they fly amongst the blades; and both varieties of our only native land mammals – bats, will risk their lungs exploding due to fluctuations in barometric pressure in the vicinity of turbines.
We need to keep Rangitikei, Ruapehu and the Horizons region as “a wind-farm-free zone” and make it our point of difference. Overseas tourists will love it, but most won’t return if you let ‘big wind’ in.
By Madalene Frost http://www.pukekaka.com/modules.php?name=Articles
Watch the Documentary: ‘Down Wind’
From Surge Media Canada on YouTube: “Down Wind is the explosive documentary that examines Ontario’s controversial rush into industrial wind farm development. Produced by Surge Media, Down Wind exposes how this Canadian provinces’ green energy dream turned into a nightmare for rural residents forced to live among the towering 50 storey turbines. We hear searing, personal stories of people experiencing mysterious health problems, insomnia, depression, even thoughts of suicide; their lives turned upside down by the constant noise and vibrations given off by the massive wind turbines. The documentary also reveals the staggering economic costs of these wind farms to taxpayers with huge subsidies going to big wind corporations. And how inside connections have made some government cronies wealthy, while rural communities suffer. ” The film aired on Canada’s Sun News Network. Media write up here: http://www.torontosun.com/2014/05/31/….
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