Hot air and cold air both blow over South Island wind farm


The battle lines have been drawn on a wind farm project that has “polarised” Blueskin Bay.

The depth of feeling about the project was highlighted by the packed public gallery at yesterday’s resource consent hearing for Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust’s (BRCT) $5million to $6million proposal to build three wind turbines on Porteous Hill, north of Dunedin.

The hearing began with a blow to the BRCT as council planner Darryl Sycamore no longer recommended consent be approved.

He said he was reserving his position until the end of the hearing, given the trust had made changes to the proposal.

The changes included reducing the maximum height of the wind turbines to 90m from the original 125m.

Worries about birds striking turbines, noise and health were among the issues brought up yesterday, but a key concern was around the impact on the area’s landscape.

The trust and its supporters said any negative effects would be more than made up for by the benefits, including reducing New Zealand’s reliance on carbon-producing power plants.

The wide gap in views was clear yesterday, with resident Denis Albert saying the wind farm equated to a “vandalisation of the landscape of Blueskin Bay”.

In contrast, trust landscape experts Di Lucas and Mike Moore said the wind farm was complementary, and added, to the landscape.

Ms Lucas said she had been involved in a lot of wind farms and was “heartened” by how appropriate the proposal was for the surrounding landscape.

Mr Moore agreed, but accepted that whether an individual appreciated the turbines was subjective. “You either like it or you don’t, I guess.”

Both sides of the debate claimed to have support from the majority of the Blueskin Bay community. This comes after there were 73 submissions in support of the project, 68 opposed and five neutral.

Some questions

  • How long does it take to break even on a $2m per turbine investment, assuming no maintenance, breakages or excessive downtime?
  • How does anyone become a “landscape expert”?