Palmerston North City Council chief executive Paddy Clifford says it is likely the decision will set a precedent as it is one of the few wind farm noise rulings in the country.
"The case and ruling came about because members of the affected community and Council staff worked together on this issue. Now that we have the backing of the Environment Court we can start working towards a resolution with New Zealand Windfarms Limited," he said.
Te Rere Hau Windfarm is owned by New Zealand Windfarms Limited. In 2005 the Palmerston North City 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 turbine.
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 and the conditions of the consent imposed upon it.
The case was heard last year and this week the Environment Court released its decision which included the following declaration:
"That condition 1 of the resource consent is being and has been breached by the respondent in that the Te Rere Hau Wind Farm has been operated in such a way that the noise effects at local residential locations are considerably greater than those predicted in the application."
The Environment Court also declared that the Palmerston North City Council is entitled to exercise the power of review of conditions in that:
"The acoustic information supplied in the Assessment of Effects on the Environment(AEE) by the respondent was inaccurate to such an extent that PNCC may rely on Section 128 (1) (c) RMA to conduct a review of the noise consent conditions applicable to the Te Rere Hau Wind Farm."
Head of planning services Russell O'Leary says Council staff will now consider the decision in its entirety before deciding on any further course of action.