In September 2017 the Environment Court declines Blueskin Energy Limited’s (BEL) appeal to install a 3MW wind turbine on Porteous Hill above Blueskin Bay. The judge was not satisfied that the landscape’s values should stand aside for the benefits of the proposal.
BEL has now decided it will not appeal the Environment Court decision and will now focus on working to ensure Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council’s planning policies appropriately reflect renewable electricity development.
The decision is disappointing for BEL and the wind industry as considerable time, effort and resource has gone into the vision of a community addressing energy self-sufficiency for the betterment of the community and proactively responding to climate change.
Clearly while there was considerable local support for the wind turbine there was also opposition. A constant challenge for wind energy is that while there is widespread national support for renewal energy there is often also opposition at a local level to the landscape and amenity effects.
That the limitations of NPS-REG have again been demonstrated by the Blueskin Energy decision and further confirms the outcome evaluation completed in December 2016 by MfE. The Outcome Evaluation report recognised that the NPS-REG has not noticeably increased the consistency of REG planning provisions across regional policy statements or regional or district plans.
It is of further concern that the proposed Dunedin city District Plan (2GP) does not recognise and provide for the benefits of renewable electricity generation as required by the NPS-REG.
New Zealand has a considerable number of site that are very suitable for small scale and community wind initiatives. As New Zealand transitions to a low carbon economy to reduce emissions it is important that smaller local and community wind initiatives can be developed
NZWEA is supportive of the MfE initiative to introduce National Planning Standards and hope that these will form a standardised national framework for RMA plans and policy statements so that the NPS-REG is consistently implemented in plans.
NZWEA is also seeking a revision to the NPS-REG to provide a higher level of detailed direction and guidance to enhance the legal weighting of the potential benefit of renewable energy generation.