New Zealand – Wind Energy Association welcomes Waitahora wind farm approval

“The Environment Court’s approval of Contact Energy’s proposed Waitahora wind farm recognises that well designed wind farms are entirely appropriate in windy, elevated farmland,” says the New Zealand Wind Energy Association’s Chief Executive Fraser Clark.

“In this case, the farmland was identified as having outstanding landscape values, which Contact has respected in designing the wind power project,” says Mr Clark.

Through the application and hearing process Contact proposed and refined consent conditions to ensure the project and its effects are appropriate. In many cases these conditions are more restrictive than those placed on other activities involving similar effects, such as the use of local roads.

“This clearly demonstrates that wind farm developers are committed to delivering the best possible outcomes for local communities affected by development, in addition to the many benefits the project brings for the wider New Zealand economy,” says Mr Clark.

“Wind power is one of the lowest cost options for new generation, has no fuel costs, and is not affected by the price of greenhouse gas emissions introduced by the Emissions Trading Scheme.”

New Zealand’s installed wind energy capacity currently sits at just over 500 MW and provides over 4% of our electricity. Within 20 years this share could increase to 20%. Global installed wind capacity is nearing 200,000 MW, over 20 times New Zealand’s total electricity generation capacity.

“New Zealand is respected internationally for being able to construct economically competitive wind farms without government subsidies – a unique global achievement,” concludes Mr Clark.

The Environment Court has granted all the consents and wind turbines locations the company sought for its proposed 156 MW Waitahora wind power development in southern Hawke’s Bay.

The proposal was scaled back from 65 wind turbines to either 58 125-metre wind turbines or 52 150-metre wind turbines.