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Commitment to resolving issues despite disappointing decision

Thursday December 11 2014

Scenic Shot

Customer Services General Manager Peter Eathorne says Council is carefully considering the decision. However, New Zealand Windfarms Limited (NZWL) and Council agree that the consent conditions are inadequate for the management and monitoring of noise effects.

"Therefore some sort of review is required," he says. "PNCC is committed to working with NZWL and affected residents to resolve this issue."

Te Rere Hau Windfarm on the Tararua Ranges is owned by New Zealand Windfarms Limited. In 2005 the Palmerston North City Council (Council) granted a resource consent allowing the establishment of the 97 turbine wind farm (65 of which have been installed) which was subsequently built in stages. The wind turbines in question are noticeable on the Palmerston North skyline as the smaller model two-bladed wind turbines.

As a result of a large number of noise complaints from the public, the Council asked the Environment Court to make a declaration as to whether or not Te Rere Hau was operating in accordance with its resource consent.

The Environment Court ruled that the wind farm had breached a condition of consent because the wind farm had been operated in such a way that the noise effects were considerably greater than those predicted in the resource consent application. The Court also declared the Council is entitled to exercise the power of review of conditions of the resource consent.

That decision paved the way for an abatement notice being issued and an application for a new consent. However, New Zealand Wind Farms successfully appealed the decision to the High Court. The judge ruled the Environment Court decision was incorrect and that the problem should be dealt with by a review of the conditions of the resource consent.

Palmerston North City Council appealed to the Court of Appeal claiming the High Court decision was erroneous in fact and law; wrongly granted the appeal by New Zealand Windfarms Limited and wrongly refused the cross appeal by Council.