In December 2017 a Joint Memorandum was filed with the Environment Court that concluding the wind industry’s appeal concerning part 15B of proposed Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) District Plan.
From October to December 2015 the PNCC held hearings in respect of its sectoral district plan review. Meridian, MRP, NZWF, Trustpower and NZWEA all lodged submissions requesting a number of material changes.
NZWEA’s submission related to the proposed 700m setback from the wind farm boundary and recommended adopting NZS6808:2010 as the basis for managing noise effects.
A summary of key wind industry issues and their implications were as follows:
|700m Internal setback||
PNCC proposed a 700m setback from site boundaries (if neighbours consent not received) to meet the discretionary activity classification.
The setback has implications for the repowering of wind farms in the PNCC region as a number of existing turbines do not meet the rule. There is also the risk the rule is adopted by other councils which would create repowering issues elsewhere and place limits on development opportunities.
It should be noted that the 700m rule applies to site boundaries not the notional boundary as defined in NZS6808
Without a specific rule, repowering would be treated as a new consent where it is a discretionary activity if outside the Tararua Ranges Landscape Protection Area (TRLPA) or a non-complying activity if within the TRLPA.
It is considered important to address repowering in the PNCC district plan as this will be the region where it is likely to occur first. There is also the risk that given, the number of wind farms in the region, other councils may consider it appropriate to adopt the PNCC’s position when considering future plan changes.
|Extent of TRLPA||That the proposed TRLPA included areas already subject to a consented windfarm.|
On the 8 September 2016 the Council released its decision and rejected most of the changes requested.
Wind farm owners individually lodged notices of appeal with the Environment Court and became parties to the appeals of other members along with NZWEA.
Following mediation and subsequent discussion agreement was reached to:
- Adopt NZS6808 in respect of noise levels.
- Adopt a repowering definition that provided a qualifying spatial footprint that was realistic and clear that ensured the evaluation of visual and landscape effects would be focused on the effects, other or further than those already affecting the environment from the existing wind farm.
- Grandfathering a discretionary classification of the consent for the Turitea Wind Farm given that part of the proposed wind farm is within the new Tararua ranges Landscape Protection Area.
In summary the end-result of mediation, and subsequent discussions, is that a fair and reasonable compromise has been reached which recognises industry investment in both consented, but not built, and existing wind farms.