Our lat­est chal­lenge is a wind farm pro­posal and it’s in our back­yard.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - THE GOOD LIFE -

the grid fails? Wouldn’t that need lo­cal stor­age, pre­sum­ably in hy­dro form? Again, is so­lar bet­ter, given that peo­ple can buy their own, no com­pany, no share­hold­ing re­quired?

Is there a case for grasp­ing ev­ery ‘re­new­able’ re­gard­less of what it is, due to the ur­gency of the sit­u­a­tion? Most of us agree that the sooner we go all­re­new­able, the bet­ter. You can ar­gue that wind tur­bines and so­lar pan­els are con­structed of, by, and with fos­sil fu­els, and you’d be right. But we have to start some­where, which means us­ing what we’ve got to get what we haven’t. When we get to think­ing in terms of us­ing fos­sil fu­els to man­u­fac­ture their re­place­ment and to re­al­is­ing how late in the game we are, maybe we should just go full steam ahead (pun in­tended!) with ev­ery­thing we can, ev­ery­where we can. In­clud­ing wind tur­bines, here in our back­yard.

My con­cerns are not re­ally Nimby ones though. They’re more about whether this plan is part of the best way for­ward, but that wasn’t the case when some wor­ried folk called a lo­cal meet­ing. A hand-out on ev­ery seat listed ev­ery pos­si­ble down­side, plus the usual com­plaints about not enough con­sul­ta­tion, that the pro­posal will kill birds, im­pact tourism, all that stuff.

We’d gone along to get in­formed but I sus­pect we were in the mi­nor­ity. I sat there

A re­peated com­ment was that ‘this is dif­fi­cult coun­try, even the lo­cal farm­ers have trou­ble with it’, the ra­tio­nale be­ing that the con­struc­tion of tur­bine foun­da­tions might lead to land­slides or sim­i­lar. Those farms pro­duce meat, us­ing fos­sil fu­els, on tricky, slip-prone coun­try so you could ask the dis­pas­sion­ate ques­tion, which is the worse land-use?

Then there were the com­ments that ‘if Ti­wai Smelter closes down, there will be more than enough re­new­able energy’ and that’s wor­thy of deeper thought. Yes, in the­ory we could run the en­tire na­tion on elec­tric cars (ex­clud­ing man­u­fac­ture of cars and bat­ter­ies) with what Ti­wai uses, roughly speak­ing. That doesn’t take ac­count of heavy trans­port, trac­tors, or the other dis­place­ment de­mands that would be loaded onto the grid if fos­sil fu­els be­came un­ob­tain­able, what­ever the rea­son.

I came away with a heavy heart. I don’t like see­ing a com­mu­nity di­vided. Af­ter a lot of equiv­o­ca­tion, I made a qual­i­fied­sup­port sub­mis­sion (see page 55) along the lines of what you’ve read so far.

If we are go­ing where I think we are, things are go­ing to be­come more lo­cal. That in­cludes energy and food pro­duc­tion, in­fra­struc­ture main­te­nance, and deal­ing with our pol­lu­tion. Nim­by­ism – how­ever un­der­stand­able – isn’t tol­er­ant enough to co-ex­ist with lo­cal­ism as it needs the part called ‘away’. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how our at­ti­tudes change when the pres­sure comes on.

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