Nov/Dec 2015 News
As we are in the final stages of the early-development period for the proposed Blueskin wind development, we’ve discovered some community fears. While some negative opinion about the visual aspect of community wind was always anticipated, it was only when people began alerting us to some highly misleading leaflets being circulated that we realized how deeply worried about the proposal some people felt. Negative campaigning, such as a grossly misleading attack advert in relation to the Blueskin proposal, is sometimes a feature of proposed wind developments. We have always strived to keep the community informed and involved in this project through the years of work, and we were disappointed by oppositional and adversarial politics in evidence. Nevertheless, we will continue to provide fact, not fiction, and hope to be able to address concerns.
The negative campaigning had brought a lot of people to a meeting on the 19th of November in Warrington Hall. It was very reassuring to see so many supporters, as well as interested people and the clearly concerned. On the seats in the hall, the newly formed ‘Porteous Hill Landscape Protection Group’ had placed a list of statements, many of them wildly inaccurate. However there are three fears that seem most relevant to address. They are:
- Visual Impact. We are aiming to construct and operate a small wind cluster or ‘farm’ on Porteous Hill comprising three (3) turbines (800kW to 900kW) each measuring 60 metres to hub height, within a 125 legal height envelope. We do not intend and have not applied to put lights on turbines. Obviously wind turbines will be visible in the rural landscape from some locations - you'll love, hate or be indifferent to that. Most of the community feedback we've received on the proposal through both the formal and informal processes is that 3 turbines on Porteous Hill will mostly be seen as a positive visual symbol both of renewables and low carbon community.
- Noise Impact. We have commissioned a professional acoustic report, and we are very confident that all noise will be within the noise standard for the nearest houses. To be fully confident we have also commissioned a peer review. We don’t want anyone to be bothered by noise and want to give full assurance. Turbine technology has come along way since the early days and large turbines are extremely quiet.
- Bird Deaths. We care strongly about birds, and many human activities kill birds, including cat ownership. What’s perhaps surprising, given the amount of attention it gets, is how few birds wind turbines kill in relation to other things. The Expert Ecologists Report reviews evidence from comparable NZ examples and concludes that any risk at this proposed 3-turbine development is minor to less-than-minor, and proposed some conditions which we support. US bird deaths that featured in an attack advert are just not relevant to NZ wind sites.
Photo showing proposed turbines from Church Rd.
The Blueskin wind development is an extremely low impact proposal that we have been talking about and working on for many years. BRCT, the owner of Blueskin Energy Limited, is a local charity with an elected board of Trustees, 3 staff, 3 contractors, and many volunteers, and Jeanette Fitzsimons is our patron. A short video on the website gives you an idea of how things will be run, once the Resource Consent is secured and the wind farm developed. BRCT was established to promote initiatives that support community resilience. So far we have focused largely on energy resilience to help us adapt to the challenges presented by climate change and we will be seeking community input into the most critical areas of work as our capacity grows. So now our major project is becoming real, after all the years of planning and work! We are very excited, and yes, we’ll be taking a Christmas break, but all our attention is on the Resource Consent process and with all the thorough work we have put in, we want to ensure it is a success.
To stay in touch with developments, visit the new Blueskin Energy website: www.blueskinenergy.co.nz or pop into the office at 1121 Mt Cargill Rd, Waitati. Telephone enquiries can be made on 4822048. Wishing you all a happy and warm Christmas!