South Taranaki Star

Iwi appeals wind turbine decision


A Taranaki iwi is taking its opposition to the proposed constructi­on of four massive wind turbines in its rohe to the High Court.

Te Korowai o Ngāruahine Trust has, along with Greenpeace, filed notice to appeal the December 2021 decision of an independen­t expert panel to grant resource consent enabling a renewable wind energy facility, associated with a $70 million green hydrogen project, to be set up in South Taranaki.

Hiringa Energy Ltd and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd applied under a new fast-tracked consenting process to build four, 206metre-tall wind turbines on Kokiri Rd farmland, about 5km northeast of Manaia.

The farmland is owned by Māori agri-business Parininihi ki Waitotara.

The expert panel granted the consent, with conditions, on December 1, giving the project the green light.

It was hoped constructi­on would be under way in earnest by September to install the turbines, ahead of generation beginning next year.

About 40 full-time jobs would be created across the constructi­on period.

However, the High Court action is likely to cause delays. The hearing is set down for two days and begins in Wellington on May 16.

Once built, the turbines would be the tallest in Aotearoa. The electricit­y they generate would be transferre­d to Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ ammonia-urea manufactur­ing plant at Palmer Rd to produce ‘‘green’’ hydrogen from water.

Initially, all the hydrogen will be used in the production of ammonia and green urea for fertiliser, but over five years this will transition to fuel for the transport sector.

However, the turbines’ visual impact on the landscape was among a series of concerns raised by Te Korowai o Ngāruahine.

In its initial submission, prior to the panel reaching its decision, the trust’s Dion Luke took issue with the proposed location for the turbines and how this would impact on iwi relationsh­ips with Taranaki Maunga, their ancestor.

He said it had become apparent through the consultati­on phase that no alternativ­e location had been canvassed and, while there had been attempts to address iwi concerns, little had changed.

During consultati­on, an offer had been made to Te Korowai o Ngāruahine to have an investment stake in the initiative, but

Luke said this would be declined as there was no clear consensus from hapū regarding the project.

When contacted about the upcoming appeal, Te Korowai o Ngāruahine chief executive Te Aorangi Dillon declined to comment.

The proposal was first lodged under the Government’s Covid19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act 2020, which has the aim of speeding up the consent process for projects that create work and help boost the economy.

It is understood the upcoming appeal would be among the first heard by the courts in connection with this legislatio­n.

However, appeals on these matters can only be made on questions of law.

It is understood the appellants will argue errors were made at several points in the process, including how the issue of consultati­on with affected iwi and hapū was considered by the panel.

Together, Ballance AgriNutrie­nts and Hiringa Energy said they were disappoint­ed the turbine constructi­on had been delayed due to the appeal against provisiona­l consent.

‘‘The turbines are a critical component of the organisati­ons’ joint green hydrogen project at Kapuni. The project’s ultimate goal is to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a zero emission, hydrogen-based heavytrans­port network.

‘‘Green hydrogen will make a significan­t contributi­on towards our national Net Zero by 2050 emissions targets. With a total output capacity of 24.8MW, the turbines are expected to generate the renewable electricit­y required to enable industrial­scale production of green hydrogen via the project’s electrolys­er plant.

‘‘The location and scale of the project is necessary to be able to compete with and displace fossil fuels. We acknowledg­e that some hapū do not support the project and have appealed the consent; however, we are very grateful for the productive partnershi­p we have with hapū located closest to the project.’’

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 ?? HIRINGA ENERGY ?? A computer-generated view of how the four 206-metre wind turbines would look from Inaha Rd, adjacent to Te Aroha Marae, a distance of 2.4km away. (File image)
HIRINGA ENERGY A computer-generated view of how the four 206-metre wind turbines would look from Inaha Rd, adjacent to Te Aroha Marae, a distance of 2.4km away. (File image)

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