Residents in Tararua are increasingly concerned about the prospect of living between two wind farms as plans for another turbine project are being proposed. The existing Turitea North wind farm, owned by Mercury, already overshadows their properties with turbines as high as 125 meters. Now, Yinson Renewables and Aurecon are intending to erect 11 even taller turbines closer to their homes. This has led to a growing resistance from the community, with residents like Gareth Bestow rallying neighbors to oppose the plan.
Bestow revealed his initial unawareness about the presence of the Turitea wind farm when he purchased his property in 2013. Neither the Tararua District Plan nor anyone else informed him about the consented project. The revelation came in the form of a letter from Yinson Renewables about the installation of wind monitoring equipment. A subsequent community drop-in session failed to address the concerns of residents adequately and left them with numerous unanswered questions.
Bestow’s main concerns revolve around the lack of transparency regarding the size, type, and noise levels of the proposed turbines. Furthermore, the expected noise from the new wind farm would compound with the existing noise from Turitea. Bestow emphasized that the proposed project, with turbines twice as close as Palmerston North’s regulations allow, should not be approved. Palmerston North’s District Plan dictates a 1.5km setback between turbines and dwellings for reference.
Aimee Charmley, the planning services team leader at Tararua District Council, confirmed the absence of a setback rule in Tararua. However, she mentioned that the council had conducted a pre-application meeting with Aurecon and expected consent applications to be lodged in April. Bestow expressed concerns that residents need ample time to comprehend and respond to the plans before the clock starts ticking on the 30-day submission period.
In response to the community’s concerns, Yinson Renewables stated that they are taking community feedback into account and are redesigning the wind farm accordingly. The redesigned plans, which are also influenced by ongoing assessments, will be shared with the community prior to submission. Mercury, the owner of Turitea wind farm, confirmed compliance with consent conditions but refrained from commenting on the potential effects of the new project.
This dispute highlights the need for increased community engagement in the planning stages of wind farm developments. Balancing the benefits of renewable energy with the concerns of local residents is crucial for achieving sustainable and acceptable outcomes.