Kaimai Wind Farm community update February 2023
As it did across all sectors, the Covid pandemic materially impacted our ability to physically meet with people to understand and, hopefully, allay any concerns about our proposal to construct a wind farm on the northern reaches of the Kaimai Ranges at Tirohia.
Health and welfare of the wider community has been uppermost in our minds and so, over the last two years, we have continued to consult with various groups and individuals online or in Zoom meetings and hui. Where possible we have also continued to investigate areas of concern to the community.
I am pleased that, with the pandemic behind us, we can return to face-to-face meetings and hui. The purpose of this update is to provide you with a current overview of the project.
Firstly, a recap:
Kaimai Wind Farm began measuring the wind strength and consistency in 2005 when wind masts were erected at the site.
Since that time, we have met with a large number of people across the greater Hauraki District to discuss the project and the many benefits which would accrue to the community, and to hear and respond to any concerns.
In June 2018 we submitted resource consent applications to the Hauraki District and Waikato Regional Councils to construct a 24 turbine wind farm.
The application was publicly notified in November 2018 and around 220 submissions were received by the closing date of 31 January 2019. Submitting the consent application began a process whereby the respective Councils undertake analyses and reports which would enable a Hearing
Individual submitters who want to heard at the hearing, for and against the project number 49 and 9 respectively. There are also 8 glider associations and 7 Iwi groups seeking to present at the hearing. The hearing was initially planned for 2020 however for various reasons has been deferred.
After extensive consultation the relevant Hauraki iwi of Ngati Tara Tokanui, Ngati Hako, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Maru and Ngati Rahiri Tumutumu submitted Cultural Values Assessments during 2021 and 2022 which summarise their concerns and opposition to the project. We have continued to talk with these iwi about those concerns and remain hopeful that resolution of some issues is possible. We believe the wind farm will deliver positive outcomes for local Māori and, indeed, all New Zealanders.
Studies on native bats
Our multi-year study and research has continued into the native bat population in and around the project site and is providing invaluable insights which will help us mitigate any negative impact on this species.
We commissioned Joe Wurts (an aeronautical engineer) to conduct scale glider studies at a South Island wind farm to determine the wake effects of the wind turbines. The study was focused on fixed wind gliders (sail planes) – but also has relevance to hang gliders and powered aircraft. The study demonstrated very low potential negative impacts on aircraft flying behind operating wind turbines.
Paragliders have different flight characteristics to fixed wing aircraft. Paragliders are more susceptible to turbulence effects of wind turbine wakes. Accordingly we have taken a different view (to fixed wing aircraft) and have offered a mitigation strategy of stopping the wind turbines operating for short periods of time during paragliding events – particularly national competitions in order for fliers to pass through the project safely. An agreement has been prepared and is being finalised by paraglider/hang glider representative groups.
Given the time which has elapsed since our last round of personal or public meetings, I want to extend an open invitation to individuals or groups who would like to meet with me to learn more about the proposal. Notwithstanding, I will come back to you at regular intervals to provide updates on progress.
Kaimai Wind Farm Ltd