Pub­lic meet­ing on pro­posed wind farm

Waihi Leader - - News - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

Pro­tect Karanga­hake is call­ing a pub­lic meet­ing this Sun­day to dis­cuss the Kaimai Wind Farm project.

Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd ap­plied for re­source con­sents in June to Hau­raki District Coun­cil and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil.

The KWF wind farm would be in­stalled on a 1304ha site near Tiro­hia, across pri­vate land on three prop­er­ties.

It would in­clude 24 tur­bines with a hub height of 110m and 130m and an out­put of 100MW to be set up on the north-western flanks of the Kaimai Ranges.

Civil draw­ings from Ven­tus En­ergy, which owns Kaimai Wind Farm ltd, shows that tur­bines will be vis­i­ble from sev­eral spots in Waihi, Waikino, Paeroa and Waihi Beach.

Con­sents are also sought for an as­so­ci­ated sub-sta­tion, ac­cess roads and over­head line struc­tures.

Pro­tect Karanga­hake says the size of the project, and the po­ten­tial im­pact on the land­scape, cul­tural val­ues and the en­vi­ron­ment raise con­cerns.

The group says the pro­posed tur­bines are taller than the Te Aroha Broad­cast­ing Spire and stand­ing taller than Mt Karanga­hake when in their in­tended po­si­tion along the Ka­mai’s ridge line and di­rectly ad­ja­cent to the DOC Con­ser­va­tion land.

Glenn Starr, CEO of Ven­tus En­ergy says the ecol­ogy — in par­tic­u­lar birds and na­tive bats — has been the subject of ex­ten­sive mon­i­tor­ing which be­gan more than a decade ago in 2005.

“Mod­ern tur­bines are larger than ear­lier mod­els but ex­tremely ef­fi­cient, en­abling gen­er­a­tion of more power with fewer struc­tures.

“Our tur­bines are lo­cated to cap­ture the best wind re­source so the wind farm can meet lo­cal and na­tional en­ergy de­mand through re­new­able en­ergy.

“Each tur­bine has three ro­tors (arms) which, mea­sured to the tips, equate to 180m and 207m re­spec­tively,” he says.

The pro­posed site would cover about 1.5 per cent of the whole Kaimai Ranges and pro­vide re­new­able en­ergy to around 49,000 house­holds in both Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Pro­tect Karanga­hake group says the pro­posed site is too close to DOC land.

“In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion of this level, ad­ja­cent to this nar­row­est sec­tion of the eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor, run­ning from the Kaimais up through the Coro­man­del ranges would have an ad­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­fect.

“Kaimai Wind Ltd states that mor­tal­ity of na­tive bird and bat life will in­crease with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the wind farm.

“This raises ques­tions as to why the wind farm would be lo­cated along­side a rem­nant and nar­row eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor and con­ser­va­tion land,” the group says.

En­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tancy com­pany Kes­sels Ecol­ogy sur­veyed the site as part of an Eco­log­i­cal Ef­fects As­sess­ment re­port re­leased in March.

The na­tion­ally threat­ened North Is­land long-tailed bat, known to be within the Kaimai Ranges, was de­tected dur­ing the sur­veys for this pro­posal, it says.

They con­ducted a 14-day sur­vey in Jan­uary 2013 and a near-month long in Septem­ber/ Oc­to­ber 2015.

“In the 2015 sur­vey 63 per cent (eight) of all of the sur­veyed sites con­tained long-tailed bats, while in the 2013 bat sur­vey 55 per cent (11) of the sites con­tained bats.

“In to­tal 59 per cent (19) of the sur­veyed sites de­tected bats,” it says.

But the re­port does not sup­port find­ings from the Sup­ple­men­tary Ecol­ogy re­port of June 2018 un­der­taken by Ecol­ogy New Zealand Ltd (ENZL), an ecol­ogy con­sul­tancy com­pany.

Their sur­vey shows bats were de­tected at 95 per cent of all sur­veyed sites pre­vi­ously sur­veyed by Kes­sels. “With the ex­cep­tion to the ABM 9 site [which has a mal­func­tion], these con­firmed the pres­ence of bats in all ar­eas pre­vi­ously sur­veyed by Kes­sels,” it says.

ENZL says that other sites equipped with au­to­mated bat de­tec­tors (ABM) do not show the same re­sults as Kes­sels.

ABMs cap­ture a spec­tro­gram im­age of ul­tra­sound bat echolo­ca­tion calls and recorded data from one hour be­fore sun­set to one hour after sun­rise.

“Of par­tic­u­lar note, sur­veys un­der­taken at the ABM 16 site by Kes­sels did not show any bat pres­ence. In con­trast, ENZL’s sur­vey in­di­cated that this site dis­played over­all mod­er­ate bat ac­tiv­ity, and within con­text of the site, the sec­ond high­est area for bat ac­tiv­ity.

“The re­sults of the 2018 bat sur­vey data ob­tained from ABM 02 and ABM 12 now con­firm the pres­ence of long-tailed bats in these ar­eas and up­dates pre­vi­ous ab­sence within the Kes­sels re­port,” it says.

ENZL also in­di­cates that risks for bats is “non-sig­nif­i­cant” based on pre­vi­ous sur­veys on op­er­a­tional wind farms.

No short-tailed bats were de­tected dur­ing ENZL and Kes­sels sur­veys, with the clos­est be­ing around 70km away from the pro­posed site.

Both ENZL and Kes­sels state that mi­gra­tory and res­i­dent birds may also use habi­tat and airspace over the wind farm site.

“Some of these bird species are re­gional to lo­cal mi­grants, such as South Is­land pied oys­ter­catch­ers, bit­tern and North Is­land ka¯ka¯, while oth­ers are long dis­tance mi­grants, such as bar­tailed god­wits.

“The site may pro­vide a cor­ri­dor along which seabird species mi­grate from Mi­randa to the Tau­ranga Har­bour, hi­waO¯ Har­bour, Maketu¯ Es­tu­ary/ Kaituna River mouth and Waihi Es­tu­ary/Puke­hina Spit re­gion,” Kes­sels says.

Glen Starr says that un­der­stand­ing the birdlife flight pat­terns and habi­tat is fac­tored into the com­pany’s plan­ning and mit­i­ga­tions.

“All tur­bines south of the trans­mis­sion line were re­moved from the pro­posal be­cause of po­ten­tial im­pact on bats and we will widen the eco­log­i­cal cor­ri­dor and in­crease bird and bat habi­tat with na­tive plant­ings on more than 20ha of land ad­ja­cent to the ex­ist­ing

DOC

Re­serve,” he says.

PHOTO / WAIKATO RE­GIONAL AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY SER­VICE 2012 AND FORESTRY MAPS.

Map of the site lay­out with tur­bines cir­cled in red and blue.

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