May/June 2016 News BEL
The next step of our journey to build New Zealand's first community wind farm is the Resource Consent Hearing, which will begin on Tuesday the 17th of May. Many expert assessments have been prepared for the hearing and this is the culmination of 7 years of work and a great deal of community investment in time, money and expertise. We’ve looked at questions of land stability for example and have greatly appreciated expert analyses from Geologists Mark Walrond from GeoSolve and Dr Virginia Toy from the University of Otago. While geology is not strictly a consenting issue, its been fascinating to take a look at the site in ‘deep’ detail and understand the soil structure. This is all part of a long and rewarding journey that has involved exhaustive work covering all aspects of the local environment, not only soil.
Conducting Geotech investigations on Porteous Hill
A number of concerns were raised through the Resource Consent process. The project has been modified and improved year on year after reviews of community feedback, and expert assessments have been completed to investigate environmental concerns. All of that led to the proposal being judged solid and submitted for a Resource Consent. The Resource Consent hearing is the last critical appraisal of the project, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all over. The next stage of development can only begin if consent is granted. If it is, and we clear all the other hurdles in front of us, we’re confident that it will fulfill our objective of returning a million dollars to Blueskin communities in each decade of operation.
Building energy infrastructure is challenging, and takes time. Gone are the days when a politician could decide on a new hydro dam, have the state acquire the land, and then build it. Now, fortunately, a case has to be made to to ensure the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. We are fully confident a wind farm at Blueskin Bay meets this criteria. It has attracted debate and criticism, just like every other development in Blueskin Bay (such as building a new library or establishing the Ecosanctuary). We believe that here in Blueskin we have the ability to initiate a paradigm change in the electricity sector by demonstrating that community energy in New Zealand is possible and that we can create climate solutions together. The outcome of the hearing will be made public in June, so keep to keep an eye on things, check out our Blueskin Energy website: http://www.blueskinenergy.co.nz/ , or follow us on twitter @BlueskinPower or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blueskin-Resilient-Communities-Trust/180367402010248) and you can call 03 4822249 or call in to visit and find out more about any of our work.