Residents on the Tararua side of the Pahiatua Track are facing the prospect of living between two wind farms.
To the west, their properties are dominated by Mercury’s Turita North turbines, which stand 125 meters high above the Tararua ridgeline, approximately 2 km away.
And now, Yinson Renewables and project manager Aurecon are proposing to install 11 even taller turbines closer to homes.
Software engineer Gareth Bestow, who lives on Makomako Road, the main route from Palmerston North to Pahiatua, is rallying neighbors to oppose the plan.
Besto said he did not know, and no one told him, not even Tararua District Planning, that the property he purchased in 2013 was next to the fully consented Turitia wind farm. Which was not made yet.
And he couldn’t believe that he could now effectively live in the middle of a wind farm.
Bestow first learned that another wind farm was planned, in a letter from Yinson Renewables, a subsidiary of Malaysia-based international energy company Yinson, that wind monitoring equipment would soon be installed.
This was followed by a community drop-in session in October attended by about 80 people, which Bestow said was mere window dressing for community engagement about the turbines.
“How do we respond when they won’t tell me where they are, how big they are and how much noise they make?”
He said the description was incomplete, containing no information about the size and type of turbines, and containing a map that was difficult to interpret.
Mapping is one of the things Besto enjoys, and he has done his best to measure the distances between the turbines and houses – the shortest distance is about 800 metres.
“All of these will not get consent in Palmerston North.”
Palmerston North’s District Plan includes regulations providing for a 1.5 km setback between turbines and residences.
Bestow was also concerned about how noise would be measured, given that part of the proposed wind farm would be within the noise range of the Turritia Wind Farm.
“We’ll get all this noise on top of what we’ve already got.”
Bestow said that after moving to New Zealand from the United States, he would like to see wind turbines rather than smoke plumes and nuclear chimneys.
“But this community is already paying the price for green energy.
“It’s amazing to think that you can build turbines twice as large, within the existing noise footprint of an existing wind farm – it’s amazing that you can even consider doing that.”
Tararua District Council planning services team leader Amy Charmley confirmed there is no failure rule in Tararua.
He said there had been an initial pre-planning application meeting with Aurecon, and the council was expecting the consent application to be lodged in April.
Bestow said his concern was to ensure residents were well-informed about the plans now, so they had enough time to assimilate and respond, and that was what he achieved at a recent community meeting. Had shared it.
He said once the application is filed, people will have only 30 days to prepare and file the application.
“As soon as the clock starts ticking, people will start running.”
A spokesperson for Yinson Renewables said the company is redesigning the proposed wind farm and potential transmission lines to take into account community feedback about potential noise and visual impacts.
Those redesigned plans, which may also be influenced by the ongoing detailed assessment, will be shared with the community first.
“We understand the community is concerned and we are one of many wind farms in the area.
“We are listening closely and want to achieve an outcome that is acceptable to all.”
Mercury Portfolio general manager Phil Gibson said the Turitia wind farm fully complied with its consent conditions, and he could not comment on the impacts of the Makomako development.