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Europe 1 Dunedin 0

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, May 20th, 2016 - 79 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, ETS, global warming, science - Tags:

blueskin turbine
In perhaps a glimpse of things to come in Europe, Portugal managed to run for four consecutive days last week on solar, wind, and hydro-power electricity.

On Sunday May 15th, Germany’s electricity generation went almost-clean, with prices and times turning negative – effectively paying consumers to use it.

Last Thursday, the UK’s power system finally got to zero electricity produced by coal (of course some coal generation may come back next winter).

Whereas in Dunedin, New Zealand, you can still fill a hall full of people trying to stop just three wind turbines, proposed by a local not-for-profit trust that proposes generating over $100,000 in returned benefits to its community.

Sustainability doesn’t have to be this hard does it?

79 comments on “Europe 1 Dunedin 0 ”

  1. Jenny Kirk 1

    We need to know a bit more about this proposal – the city planner Mr Sycamore first approved it, and then declined approval after changes were made to it. What were these changes ?

    But on the whole – I agree that you’d think people would be welcoming of wind turbines in this day and age, so why don’t these people want it ?
    Of course, some people will oppose it just because of it “spoiling the look” of the landscape. There’s a majestic view of elegant wind turbines standing out on the horizon as you leave the Palmerston North airport – but apparently some people don’t like that either.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Some locals fought tooth and nail against the addition of those Palmerston North wind turbines for years.

      • Psycho Milt 1.1.1

        It’s now one of the things we take people to see when they visit. They’re pretty impressive up close and freaky as shit to stand underneath when the blades are spinning. Still plenty of haters though.

        • mac1

          It’s all in one’s view point.

          This was my take of the wind turbines above Palmerston North.

          “Apiti Wind Farm 5-7 October 2012

          Long light lingers in from the west
          Illumining green hills in clear glow-
          Blades of countless turbines spin above
          In the unfelt wind; a Calvary
          Of crosses against the sky,
          Three point stars for crossbars, rotating;
          A modern Golgotha
          Of white sky-bound bones.

      • esoteric pineapples 1.1.2

        It would have been nice if they had hid the turbines from view when going through the Manawatu Gorge to preserve its sense of natural awe. Sometimes little things like this can make a big difference.

      • Blackcap 1.1.3

        The council is still fighting the company that run the wind farms up there too. The windfarm has to spend a lot of money on legal fees (and the council wastes money on their legal team as well) because some residents do not like the noise pollution that they make. (bit of a summary but its disappointing to see that the council would be so against these wind farms)

        • dukeofurl

          Yes It seems to be a new wind farm which the council is asking to be changed.
          Council doesnt seem to be even handed here, as they include in visual effects a wind farm which isnt even consented or even applied for.

          Thats my biggest hassle (in a different field to wind farm) professional people in council are seen to bending the rules every which way and are sometimes just incompetent.

          • Psycho Milt

            The “visual effects” think is a canard. Most of this country looks nothing like it did a few hundred years ago due to human settlement. On what basis is a farm, a road or a pine plantation more or less visually appealing than wind turbines? Some asshole’s opinion?

            • instrider

              This mindless preservation of and glamourisation the ‘natural’ or the status quo seems to penalise innovation and institutionalise a fear of progress. We saw that in Wellington where a semi industrial commercial area on the cbd fringe with the highest road traffic suddenly became an irreplaceable heritage precinct that would be forever ruined by putting an elevated road above an existing road (completely ignoring the effect the multi-storey buildings immediately adjacent.

              The desire to preserve in aspic ignores history of change that improves society and fails to acknowledge that human structures can actually improve vistas. Look at those wonderful iconic churches and castle towers that enhance european skylines – I doubt similar could ever be built in modern nz.

    • Molly 1.2

      The Blueskin project arose out of Transition Towns, and the history can be found here.

      The opposition to such resource consents currently seem to be given much weight. A windfarm proposed for a sparsely populated area in our region, was eventually turned down due to loud individual voices. One in particular stuck with me ” The sight of the turbines (2km away) would scare the horses on the farm”.

      People seem to be comfortable with pollution when it is out of sight. The visual and noise pollution (if any) of turbines seems to offend many, but the “invisible” carbon pollution of coal generation in Huntly is fine.

      Personally, I like the look of the Palmerston North turbines. When you see them, it is a glimpse of longterm sustainable thinking in action.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.1

        People seem to be comfortable with pollution when it is out of sight. The visual and noise pollution (if any) of turbines seems to offend many, but the “invisible” carbon pollution of coal generation in Huntly is fine.

        And they don’t bat an eyelid when a car drives by lodging pollutants in their lungs slowly killing them.

        • katipo

          Exactly ! Out of sight out of mind.
          If we had the ability to visually sense the harm caused by man made activities, a windmill sitting on typical farmland would appear as an oasis surrounded by a festering nitrogen polluted desert devoid of biodiversity.

      • gsays 1.2.2

        Hi molly, I have to disagree with you in regards to long term and sustainable.

        The maintenance one those turbines is enormous.
        When they are decommissioned, I seriously doubt the concrete poured will be removed.

        Anton oliver wrote a great essay on a proposed wind farm in otago.

        I also have friends who live within 1500 metres of them(ironcally off-grid). The sound ican be overwhelming.

        Instead how about solar farms.
        No moving parts.

        • Molly

          Hi gsays,

          For me, all solutions are going to be part compromises. Even solar panels require maintenance, and replacement, and can take up considerable space. Turbines can be managed with a very small footprint, and even go offshore.

          As with most builds, it would depend entirely on the location and the weather.

          It would be hoped that as more systems came into place, and local technical knowledge and innovation increased better alternative systems would be developed and implemented.

          It is reasonable to consider that any new alternative generation would reduce the likelihood of fossil-fuel generation being continued or replaced.

          We can have a concerted look at the best options when we are better informed. But to oppose these, and not have the same disgust for the current coal generator at Huntly in a time of climate change, is not realistic.

  2. dukeofurl 2

    Europes grids are interconnected of course so while Germanys consumption ‘matched renewable generation’ their coal plants were still operating for export demand

    Renewables were only able to meet demand because of Germany’s strong export capability, the analyst said. Even when solar and wind peaked, conventional power plants were still supplying 7.7 gigawatts.

    A look at the current Agorameter shows heavy use of conventional power in Germany
    Click on the buttons for sources such as lignite and nuclear

    Im sure we too could reach over 90% renewable over certain short periods like Portugal, Germany and UK , when we account for plant shutdowns for maintenance etc

    I saw the Southdown gas plant last week, doesnt appear to have run for some time, it was a peak load station, and is going to be dismantled.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    A very timely post, Ad.

    Dunedin, and particularly this area of Dunedin, is one of the leftest most alternative thinking places in the country.

    As per my other post – with this kind of reaction against the smallest steps to become more resilient and self sufficient, what can actually be done by 2030 to get off fossil fuels?

    • swordfish 3.1

      If we’re talking Waitati and Warrington area, then yep …

      Biiiiiiiiiiiiiigggg Green vote !!!

      Party/Bloc …… Waitati …… Warrington …. New Zealand



      As you say, though, Dunedin as a whole remains the most Left-leaning City in the Country – with a Green vote second only to Wellington’s.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Wait until people start proposing the building of Thorium generators to solve our fossil fuel problems…

  4. jcuknz 4

    I live on the edge of Otago Harbour … a normally windswept place and so much room for modern windmills.
    Still I wonder why the trust doesn’t have alternative and smaller proposals to 90 metre windmills. Pity they do not support local industry who are making single blade generators instead of largely closing Hillside et al.
    and for those who point out that often the harbour is flat calm Well that is why we have hydro and solar sources in a well regulated society.
    But this is the problem with the left and the RMA and NIMBYs

    • Ad 4.1

      The proposets have already decreased the size of them.

    • dukeofurl 4.2

      What problem with the ‘left’, the Green party leader Meteira Turei supports this community based proposal, ie profits go back to community.

      • Paul Campbell 4.2.1

        not only that, she also lives there (that’s where her ‘castle’ is)

        Partly this issue is a geographical one the people who have worked on the proposal live on one side of the bay, the windmills are going in on the other side (usually everyone there mostly gets along)

    • Alfie 4.3

      Pity they do not support local industry who are making single blade generators instead of largely closing Hillside et al.

      As far as I’m aware, the wind turbines being proposed for Blueskin are designed and built in Christchurch. The single blade generators tend to be a lot smaller than what’s being proposed here.

      All of us in this area decried the Hillside closure, as we did with the government gutting of Invermay. But that’s another issue and not really related to windmills.

      • instrider 4.3.1

        Basic rule of wind turbines is “Bigger really is better”

        If they are Windflow ones I hope you’ve had a good look at their performance. Media have reported them having reliability problems and high maintenance costs, and not performing to specification.

    • Booker 4.4

      I seem to remember even the Polytech, who have one of the locally made single-blade generators on top of their roof, had a substantial push-back to deal with too. Sad 🙁

  5. Ad 5

    If I get a moment I’ll pull up the text from the Lammermoor decision, which is where this is probably going to go.

    Point is, this stuff is hard work.

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      Its appreciated, this is very informative.

    • Lulu 5.2

      Hi Ad,
      The Project Hayes defence in the Environment Court was heavily resourced by the holder of the consent Meridian. If Meridian couldn’t win this it is hard to imagine who could have. The decision:

      [750] After adding all the matters identified (each with the weight discussed) and considering all the evidence and submissions we conclude by a majority of three to one that the scales come down on the side of refusing consent under the operative district plan because it would be inappropriate to place the huge proposed wind farm in such a nationally important natural landscape despite its very large potential contribution of energy to the National Grid.

      See: http://www.nzlii.org/cgi-bin/download.cgi/nz/cases/NZEnvC/2009/293

      If you are interested go back and have a look at this. A lot of issues at Blue Skin Bay were canvassed at Project Hayes as you suggest.

  6. weka 6

    I had a read through the ODT article last night. As someone who has argued against large scale centralised farms in favour of small community projects, and who is in principle supportive of the BRCT project, I’d like to add some points to the discussion.

    1. accusations of NIMBY are easy and IMO a lazy approach to solving community issues. They write off the concerns and experiences of real people irrespective of the validity of their objections.

    2. nearly half of the submitters are opposed to the scheme.

    3. the opposers claim that many of the pro-submissions are from out of the area.

    4. how is it that this project got so far along without getting the critical locals on board? (ie the neighbours of the proposed site). Or where they thinking they could just override them if they can get resources consent? What will that do to the community. (from what I can tell the main people supportive of the project live at the other end of the area, and the main people opposing live next to the site itself).

    5. it’s almost impossible to tell from the ODT article what is going on here. NIMBYism or genuine concern by residents? Or a bit of both? Has the trust botched the consultation process, or is the approach one of pushing on regardless? Did the neighbours have plenty of warning and didn’t involve themselves in the process early on? How much if this is values based (people who believe in CC, people who believe in property values).

    6. apart from a couple of short, out of context images in an intro video, I have been unable to find any clear pictures of what the visual impact of the 3 turbines would be, nor a map of the area being affected showing how close things are. I actually find that quite astounding for a project this far in. I would expect those things to be easily accessible from the front page of their website for the general public. I’m sure if I spent the time going through the submission and looking at maps I could figure it out, but the general public shouldn’t have to do that. For me this begs the question of what the consultation process has actually been like.

    I think the big fail here so far is the lack of clear information about what the underlying issues are. The pro people are going to tell one story, the antis another. The challenge would be to tell the story from all sides.

    My basic position on windfarms is let local communities decide (i.e. not big power companies). I’m tempted to say it’s none of our business, let that community get on with it, but it seems to be test case on a number of levels. There are significant public interest issues in what is going on here, it would be good to look at them critically rather than reactively.

    • swordfish 6.1

      Yep, in broad terms*, entirely agree about the way accusations of NIMBYism get thrown about with wild abandon. Usually by people who never themselves have to put up with the particular difficult / unpleasant / intolerable situation they’re casually condemning others to.

      * This isn’t a comment on the specific Blueskin Bay situation, mind.

  7. Expat 7

    South Australia shut down it’s last coal fired generator two weeks ago and are now completely running on renewables, both wind and solar, they are considering modifying the old plant to solar thermal.

    SA is still connected to the national grid, so, if required, they can use power generated interstate to meet any excess demand through winter.

    The only draw back for the state is that it has the highest electricity charges in the country, but most don’t mind, as the environmental benefits out way the disadvantages, SA is the “Greenest” state, but has the highest unemployment rate and second smallest population.

    • dukeofurl 7.1

      You are confusing coal as the only non renewable energy source.
      South Australia still has many natural gas power stations.

      The I Independent is like many newspapers who have headlines that arent matched to the story. AS the part which says just under 50% comes from gas.

      “More than 50% of the region’s electricity stems from wind and solar with the remainder coming from energy efficient combined cycle gas plants.”

      • Expat 7.1.1

        Yeah, but gas only produces 20% of the emissions of coal, if that, SA does not have the opportunity on Hydro, as there is only one in the whole of Aus, at the snowy mountains, the combination of water and high mountains are extremely rare in Aus. but it does have one of the highest rates of solar panel generation in the world, in Sydney, over 50% of all homes have solar panels and relatively high levels of energy efficiency are regulated into new home construction.

        • Colonial Viper

          The US Navy loves renewable electricity generation


          Also it is pretty cheeky to count gas as renewable power generation when it is not. Even if it is less polluting than coal.

          • Expat

            Yeah, but the positive is that it’s a big step in the right direction, the narrative is being changed, and even nuclear energy is being considered, as Aus has one of the largest deposits of uranium, the nuclear plant here in Sydney (Lucas Heights) is only 20 minutes drive from where I live, but it does not contribute to the national grid.

            To be perfectly honest, gas is probably the most beneficial source of energy for heating and cooking, where solar and wind (electrical energy from these sources) can’t meet the demand.

    • Richard McGrath 7.2

      SA should completely disengage from the national grid and stop paying lip service to non fossil fuel power generation.

  8. Rocco Siffredi 8

    ““If Germany was an island, with no export cables, this would be technically impossible because you always need to have some thermal generation running as a back up supply for when the wind or solar drops off,” Depraetere said.”

    You don’t even read the articles you link do you?

  9. The New Student 9

    Tricky to place them but the more turbines the better. Turbos turbos whoosh

  10. Alfie 10

    On of the reasons I chose to move to the Blueskin Bay area five years ago was the Trust’s attitude to alternative energy. They’ve held numerous public meetings over that period with overwhelming support from locals. They put out monthly updates in the local newspapers and the ODT provides further coverage. To describe this as “a lack of public consultation” is disingenuous.

    Despite this project taking several years to get off the ground, it’s only in recent months that a small group from Warrington stirred up their neighbours and began objecting to the proposal. They form the bulk of the anti brigade. If you look through the proposal you’ll find the turbines will be situated on farmland miles from anywhere – the nearest farm house is some 500m away. The bulk of the Warrington protesters will not even be able to see the turbines. Theirs is more of a philosophical (nimbie) objection.

    Some of the arguments being used by the anti-brigade in the resource consent hearing is frankly, shameful. They cite “unknown health effects” — doh! They’re unknown because they don’t exist. They say the public opinion in Europe is turning against wind farms. That’s a load of rubbish. My daughter lives in Germany where most houses now have solar systems and wind turbines fill the landscape. She says the locals are proud of their country’s committment to green energy and nobody objects to windmills.

    There will only be three wind turbines with a 90m max height, and they’ll generate enough electricity to power 1,000 houses. Any profits from the venture will go back to the local community. It’s a worthwhile exercise and a model for future community-led windfarms.

    It will be sad if one small group of nimbies derails this worthy community project.

    • Ad 10.1

      Great to hear from supporters on the ground.

      Really hope they make it, or it will be an almighty negative signal to other like-minded groups trying this very hard path.

      • Alfie 10.1.1

        The problem for supporters is that we all assumed the project would get approval, so very few submitted on the consent process. I did, but none of my neighbours who support the project bothered. Thus a simple for/against count means one very small group almost outnumbered the majority.

        And I do object to the misinformation they’re spreading. I mentioned the fake “European perspective” and “unknown health effects” in my first post, but there’s also the claim that the three turbines will “decimate local birdlife”. Experts in this area have considered the terrain and actual results from other small wind NZ clusters and concluded that the maximum likely damage would be three birds per year. And no endangered species will be affected because they fly in the valleys either side of the site.

        Some of the anti comments published in the ODT suggest that climate change is only a myth. We’re dealing with some sadly misinformed people here. Ironically, the Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright reports that coastal NZ will suffer more than the rest of the country. The good people of Warrington may want to consider the disastrous effects a 1m sea level rise will have on their own pleasant section of coastline.

        • dukeofurl

          Does anyone consider that the South Island is 100% renewable now ( there may be a few occasions when Cook straight cable is feeding power the other way) so any renewables in Blueskin Bay are keeping NI’s renewable portion higher ?

          Those jafas ?

          • Colonial Viper

            Local communities should have localised power generation where possible.

            • Lulu

              I agree CV.
              However the proposed Blueskin Bay model is that an intermediary sells the juice and feeds the profits back to the community. That is if they sell it at a profit. Presumably that entity will take the cost of funding into account. Unlikely they will do all this without a margin for them which would see some of the “profits” generated under this model taken out of the community into the pockets of the intermediary’s shareholders. That will be the case even if the intermediary is community owned by a different community i.e. profits from Blue Skin Bay would end up with another community. The Blue Skin Bay folks would only get what is left over. That is quite different to a community scheme where the juice serves the community itself.

    • weka 10.2

      Alfie, great to have input from a local. As a long time transition advocate I am as interested in the community aspect as I am in the alternative energy. Can you please have a look at my comment above and respond? It’s easy to write off people you disagree with, but how is that going to work in community over the long term, esp where we need to be getting people on board to change?

      Europe 1 Dunedin 0

      Some of the arguments being used by the anti-brigade in the resource consent hearing is frankly, shameful. They cite “unknown health effects” — doh! They’re unknown because they don’t exist. They say the public opinion in Europe is turning against wind farms. That’s a load of rubbish. My daughter lives in Germany where most houses now have solar systems and wind turbines fill the landscape. She says the locals are proud of their country’s committment to green energy and nobody objects to windmills.

      As someone who is highly sensitive sound and who has seen how subtle but persistence noise can cause a lot of stress in other people I find the dismissal of health issues problematic. With developping tech unknown health issues are always an issue because we don’t have the information yet. If the argument gets polarised as this one is, it becomes very hard to move forward in a good way. You may be right, they may all be just objecting for reasons we don’t consider valid. But it’s not that clear yet to me that that is the only thing going on.

      Your anecdote about Germany up against their anedcotes about Germany don’t really take us anywhere useful either. I disagree with them, but I think that we need to base arguments on addressing issues not writing them off.

      • Alfie 10.2.1

        Can you please have a look at my comment above and respond?

        I’ll do my best. Please keep in mnd that I’m not part of the Trust… just an enthusiastic supporter. Your first point is more of a statement than a question, so I’ll move on to….

        2. nearly half of the submitters are opposed to the scheme.

        Correct. Something like 74 for and 67 against. But there are roughly 1,000 households in this area so that’s still only a small proportion of the local population. I’ve attended lots of meetings about the project over the years and while they were all well-attended, there was never a disenting voice present. Not even once. Almost all of the objections eminate from one small town and only came to light in recent months following a misinformation campaign by a very small group of people.

        3. the opposers claim that many of the pro-submissions are from out of the area.

        Yes, they have claimed that. But the consent document contains the names and addresses of all submitters which proves that claim to be incorrect. They’re just flinging mud to see how much of it will stick.

        4. how is it that this project got so far along without getting the critical locals on board? (ie the neighbours of the proposed site).

        Each year the BRCT has held a series of meetings in every community including the neighbouring area. They explained the results of their testing and had graphics showing where the turbines would be built and the visual effect from different perspectives.

        There has been a small surge in people moving to Warrington recently. Maybe the prime movers are recent imports? Or maybe they just didn’t bother to attend any of the meetings. I can’t see that the Trust could have done any more to inform and encourage debate throughout the process.

        5. it’s almost impossible to tell from the ODT article what is going on here. NIMBYism or genuine concern by residents? Or a bit of both? Has the trust botched the consultation process, or is the approach one of pushing on regardless? Did the neighbours have plenty of warning and didn’t involve themselves in the process early on? How much if this is values based (people who believe in CC, people who believe in property values).

        Homestly, it’s hard to tell. Everyone in the area has had years of notice as outlined above. I can’t see three distant windmills affecting property values in any meaningful way, but then I view turbines as elegant and useful structures.

        6. apart from a couple of short, out of context images in an intro video, I have been unable to find any clear pictures of what the visual impact of the 3 turbines would be, nor a map of the area being affected showing how close things are.

        I agree. Given the detail provided at the various public meetings, the website could contain far more information. Keep in mind that this is a big project which has been a labour of love for the people involved, so far.

        There is some info on the BRCT site – http://www.brct.org.nz/our-projects/blueskin-wind-cluster/ and a link through to the detailed Resource Consent documents – http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/council-online/notified-resource-consents/notified-applications-pending/wind-farm-147-church-road – on the DCC site. However I agree that more info on the project site would be helpful.

        • Ad

          Very clear response there thankyou Alfie.

          If they get knocked back, I’d be interested in their fundraising options for an appeal.

        • weka

          Thanks Alfie!

          “I can’t see that the Trust could have done any more to inform and encourage debate throughout the process.”

          Public meetings are the most basic of consultation processes. They tend to miss important parts of the community, including mothers of young children and people with mobility problems. Most organisations and initiatives don’t get this right. They think holding a meeting and expecting people to attend is enough and too bad if you don’t turn up and involve yourself. It’s not enough if you truly want to engage as opposed to getting to say you consulted on your project (that’s a general comment about consultation, I don’t know what the trust did).

          All that aside, I think visiting the landowners next to the site would be an important thing to do. Probably one of the most important things. We know that wind farms are controversial. Maybe it was naivity to think that everyone was on board?

          Thanks for the links. I already had a look through the various trust sites and don’t feel up to trawling through the consent application. Maybe you could feed this back to them? I often find that if something is upsetting me then having clear information easily available can resolve much of what I am feeling even if things don’t go as I would like.

          People sometimes have very strong feelings about the landscape they live in. I’ve been trying to imagine how tall 90m or how far 500m is away from a turbine, and what that would be like in my area. It’s actually hard to visualise, but a good process to go through.

          It also sounds like varying values around sustainability or not are part of the problem. Again, I wonder if this is about people’s sense of belonging and who gets to decide things. I see Pasupial has posted some info on local body politics context.

          • Psycho Milt

            People have strong feelings about all kinds of things, most of which feelings amount to bullshit. Not liking the fact that some particular object in the landscape is visible should not be accepted as a valid basis for objecting to resource consent – not unless the objector lives in a completely invisible house, at least.

            • weka

              I think you missed my point Milt. I was meaning that the strong feelings need to be taken into account if a group wants to convince people of the rightness of their project. If you dismiss them out of hand people just retrench into their various positions (that’s human nature).

    • weka 10.3

      Despite this project taking several years to get off the ground, it’s only in recent months that a small group from Warrington stirred up their neighbours and began objecting to the proposal. They form the bulk of the anti brigade.

      One thing I don’t understand is how it’s come about that the peopel clsoest to the site haven’t been in the discussion until recently. How did that happen?

  11. Rosie 11

    I’m disappointed we’re not yet over this kind of resistance to clean energy by now.

    Would suggest to those residents living closet to the proposed site to come up to Wellington and visit the turbines at Makara. Of the two wind farms, West Wind and the Mill creek farm in Ohariu Valley, part of the West Wind one is open to the public.

    Test the sound from various distances and directions on different days, northerly and southerly. Your fears about noise will be allayed.

    I was up there on Tuesday, up close and personal with B2 turbine. During a roaring southerly the whooshing was imo, very quiet. Nor could I detect a hum. I would have no trouble living near one. Although, the specifications between these turbines and the ones proposed may need to be considered and compared.


    I’m biased though. I think wind turbines are beautiful. They are majestic, graceful machines. Seeing them from the living room in a glorious sunset is a wonderful sight. They inspire poetry, as mac1 has shown.

    Good luck to the community. I hope issues can be resolved with as little conflict as possible.

  12. Pasupial 12

    Dunedin 0 indeed:

    A plan to build a wind farm north of Dunedin has been dealt a blow after a council planner recommended resource consent be declined… His recommendation, which is only one piece of evidence which hearing commissioner Colin Weatherall will base his final decision on, represented a reversal from his written report which recommended consent be granted.


    • weka 12.1

      How about we look at what is actually going on instead of having a knee-jerk reaction of windfarm good, nimby bad?

      In making his recommendation, Mr Sycamore noted how “finely balanced” the proposal was.

      It was his belief the visual effects were no more than minor for the wider Blueskin Bay community, but his recommendation to decline rested on the impact it would have on the residents closest to the turbines.

      “At this late stage I remain unconvinced the effects on the Pryde Rd neighbours are sufficiently addressed with respect to both visual dominance and noise.”

      There was also uncertainty over the effect installing turbines would have on nearby springs.

      • Pasupial 12.1.1


        I would point you to an article earlier in today’s ODT detailing some of the opponents:

        Warrington resident Geraldine Tait was a founding trustee of Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust, but resigned, along with another trustee… She accused the trust of being a ‘‘cultish” special-interest group…

        Blueskin Bay resident and Waikouaiti Coast Community board member Alasdair Morrison pleaded for resource consent for the ‘‘political vanity project” to be declined.


        I’m curious to who that; “another trustee” of Tait’s, might have been. In any case, it is not mentioned that; Tait is also herself a member of the Waikouaiti Coast Community board, and that Morrison was previously its chairperson.


        This is important because this is a local government election year and there have been significant reforms in the Dunedin election process. Most relevantly; in abolishing the ward system. Whereas the Waikouaiti Coast-Chalmers ward used to directly elect a councillor to the DCC, after this year each board will have a councillor appointed to it by the DCC.


        To me, this looks more like positioning for the upcoming election than about the turbines themselves. For example, the dramatic sloganeering of Tait and Morrison. It all feels a bit like Vandervis striking “controversial” poses and playing the system for press coverage (a councillor who pulls such tricks with wearying frequency – think of a small-town Drumpf).

        • weka

          Thanks Pasupial. I can’t really follow much of that but I think that kind of context is mostly likey very important to what is happening.

          ‘political vanity project’ is just as bad as ‘nimby’ 🙄 People talking past each other.

          Nothing has been said about property values. Is that an issue too?

  13. Ad 13

    Here’s the Lammermoor decision from a few years back:


    My criticism of the judges (I’m a well know AAJ Armchair Appellate Judge) is on at least a couple of things. Firstly they sound pretty NIMBY themselves:

    “We consider that it would be preferable for current wellbeing and for future generations and would give effect to the RPS if other sites were to be investigated more fully first. In the regional context it would also be preferable for the communities of Otago if sites which have a resource consent and do not affect section 6 values were implemented first – especially the Mahineragi site.”

    Which to me is telling the appellant to find an entirely different bit of land owned by someone else, spend millions developing it, consult for years, and come back to us, taking the risk that we might find yet another bit of land, that we judge even better than that one. Better know as NIMBY.

    Secondly, the perpetual demand for more knowledge ….

    “(they) failed to put full evidence before the Court in respect of the efficient use of all the relevant natural and physical resources of the Lammermoor.”

    … which is one of the cheaper legal shots to pull.

    • weka 13.1

      It’s a clash of values. Some of us who have lived in the hinterland don’t believe that such places should be developped so that Aucklanders can keep wearing t-shirts in winter, or people can have heated towel rails. There are places where it’s appropriate to put wind farms and others where it’s not. I’m not willing to sacrifice the land to development for unecessary power generation anymore than I am willing to sacrifice any more of the big rivers. Many people feel the same. And it’s not like we don’t have other places to put wind farms.

      Anyone who puts up a nimby argument without any actual argument behind it doesn’t deserve respect.

      • Ad 13.1.1

        It’s a lot more than that.

        It’s a clash of the ideal versus the practical, and also one of scale.

        Is there an ideal size for a collective to propose a generation capacity?
        1 turbine?
        1 beneficiary?
        1 opponent?
        A thousand?
        What is the definition of ‘local’?
        It’s more than numeric, more pressing than the limits of democratic representation.

        The electricity needs of one local community are not the same as the electricity needs of New Zealand.

        That’s why I put the Lammermoor decision up: they made an explicit region-wide and nation-wide policy statement appeal. They lost.

        So where is the right size?

        If communities really cannot cope with transition, and there’s no optimum size, then the transition that Bill and others have been beseeching us to achieve is highly likely to be the preserve of none but a few very wealthy individuals with green sensibilities.

        The Blueskin Bay example, should it fail, will be an extremely important precedent for the message it sends to all the other transition initiatives that they can garden around the edges and harvest carrots, but no, they really can’t take on the big utilities and win. And the utilities didn’t have to raise a finger.

        • Ad

          Crikey I’ve been called morally flexible, but never “Undefined”!

        • weka

          “It’s a clash of the ideal versus the practical, and also one of scale.”

          Not really. I can give some pretty solid practical reasons for not building large scale windfarms in certain places, and for why smaller farms are more resilient. I think what you are meaning is that if we want BAU in terms of lifestyle and economics, then the benefits large scale farms bring outweigh the downsides. Fortunately we still have people power to balance that out. Hence no raising of Lake Manapouri, no smelter at Aramoana, no new dams on the Waitaki and Mata-au. And before you say it, none of that is incompatable with preventing the worst of CC.

          “So where is the right size?”

          It’s going to depend in each situation. We are still a very wasteful society. Why dam more rivers and build windfarms in unsuitable places instead of using less power? We can look at the national good, but there is a limit (hence no to tshirts in winter and heated towel rails).

          “If communities really cannot cope with transition”

          That’s a false argument. There are plenty of wind farms in NZ. That certain sites get rejected by some communities speaks to a broader understanding of transition than just swapping green tech for ff. We need to preserve conservation values or there will be no transition, just some superficial posturing.

          “If communities really cannot cope with transition, and there’s no optimum size, then the transition that Bill and others have been beseeching us to achieve is highly likely to be the preserve of none but a few very wealthy individuals with green sensibilities.”

          Have a read of the Riot for Austerity post. You and I can drop our own energy usage by 50% if we wanted to this year. We don’t need Meridian to build a windfarm for us in order to change. So what we are debating now is people’s preferences. Why is saying no to the Lammermoor project worse than saying no to making changes in one’s own life?

          “The Blueskin Bay example, should it fail, will be an extremely important precedent for the message it sends to all the other transition initiatives that they can garden around the edges and harvest carrots, but no, they really can’t take on the big utilities and win. And the utilities didn’t have to raise a finger.”

          I agree this is a very important test case. But does it have to be that black and white? If they fail can they redesign what they are doing. What lessons are to be learnt about community consulation?

          (I don’t think this is about taking on the big companies).

      • Alfie 13.1.2

        Some of us who have lived in the hinterland don’t believe that such places should be developed so that Aucklanders can keep wearing t-shirts in winter, or people can have heated towel rails.

        That’s understandable when a company like Meridian wants to build a gigantic windfarm which will feed the masses in Auckland. But in this case it was always a very local project.

        Originally the plan was to supply the generated electricity to those 1,000 homes in the Blueskin area. It would have provided us all with cheaper electricity which appealed to most residents.

        However that scheme presented technical difficulties — I don’t know the details but the lines company obviously needed to be involved. So the concept changed last year to supplying “one, large, commercial user” in Dunedin and using the profits to provide insulation and so forth to houses in the Blueskin area.

        I know Scott Willis who’s the main man behind the Trust and he’s a good bloke with a very community-minded attitude. The references to “former trustees” is most interesting and may be behind the petty-minded opposition which has arisen. I’ll try to find out more about that one.

        While the DCC planner may have flip-flopped, the consent has not been rejected… yet. There’s still hope.

        • weka

          My comment about heated towel rails and wind farms was in response to Ad posting about the Lammermoor project that go rejected. I agree small, localised projects are teh way to go, not least because they put in front of everyone’s faces that there is a cost to producing electricity even so called renewable. Which might make us think whether we actually need to use as much as we do.

          I hope that the Waitati projects finds a way to carry on that is more acceptable for everyone. Not sure if that is possible of course (in which case I would come down on the side of the community over land owners, but I still think we need to be very careful about not writing off people’s concerns so glibly or ideologically. We need to get as many people on board as possible).

  14. Expat 14

    Just a point about the UK not burning any coal, there is in the northern parts, a coal fired generator that has been converted to wood chip, which is more environmentally friendly than coal, and is a great idea if there’s forestry activities near by to supply the chip, but chip fuel source is actually being imported from Canada, so I wonder what the carbon foot print from that is.

  15. Expat 15

    The latest pv solar panels, prismatic solar cells, have increased the efficiency of solar cells from nearly 25% to nearly 35%, a huge increase. these cells are currently used in space exploration, but, albeit, probably wont become available for consumer use for another 10 years.

    Here’s a link if you like tech stuff


    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      That’s great and all, but even with the current tech what will you do when you have to replace the PV panels in 25 years = 2041 = major fossil fuel restrictions in place.

      • Expat 15.1.1

        25 years is very long time in current tech development time spans, just have a look at the last 15 years as evidence of that, tech research and development are accelerating, not maintaining a constant rate, anyway, will you still be around to find out, I know the sun will still be shining then, although I’m not sure how the weather will be though……… (hottest year so far globally)

        • Colonial Viper

          We’re talking about the winding down of industrial society in an age of increasingly volatile climate change and fossil fuel non-availability, and here you are talking about how science and technology are going to keep advancing as per business as usual.

          How do you square that circle?

  16. Pasupial 16

    It’s not over even if this particular consent application fails. They might have better luck in a nonlocal election year.

    Trust manager Scott Willis vowed to continue despite the setback and the opposition evident throughout the hearing…

    [the council planner said] “If you find the groundwater assessment concludes the project will not effect the reliability of springs and you find the visual and noise effects on Pryde Rd neighbours are acceptable then it is my recommendation that consent be granted.”…

    He said he appreciated other sites were assessed but said he was not convinced other sites were appropriately considered.

    “There are likely other sites with wind characteristics equally suitable, with less impact on private residents.”…

    Speaking after the hearing, Mr Willis said Mr Sycamore’s recommendation had thrown up more questions for the trust but he vowed to continue with the plan and to seek any extra information requested.


    • weka 16.1

      Thanks Pasupial. That’s what it looks like from the outside. That the planner expressed concerns, but addressing those concerns wasn’t impossible.

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