The New Zealand Wind Energy Association welcomes the Government’s intent to improve the processes for consenting large infrastructure projects.
“Wind farm developers have experienced significant delays through the RMA’s processes. These delays are having a very real impact on developers’ decisions to proceed with new projects once consent is granted,” says Mr Clark.
TrustPower’s recently consented Mahinerangi wind farm has been postponed because the economic climate deteriorated while an appeal was considered. Delays caused by appeals of Meridian’s Project West Wind, now under construction near Wellington, have been estimated to have added over $100 million to the project’s costs.
“Facilitating investment in renewable electricity generation is vital if the Government is going to achieve its goals of improving infrastructure, creating jobs and increasing economic growth,” says Mr Clark.
A wind farm can bring over $150 million of regional economic benefit, together with several hundred jobs, during their construction phase. Local economies also receive ongoing economic benefits of over $20 million per year together with the creation of a number of highly skilled, full time jobs.
Wind farms have the added benefit of enhancing New Zealand electricity supply, through reducing our reliance on hydro generation and also reducing the price risks associated with thermal generation. Improved security of supply will enable economic growth and help to improve productivity.
“Consent and Environment Court hearing for projects of national significance, such as wind farms, tend to be very complex and involve significant amounts of expert evidence regarding a wide range of environmental impacts. The intent of the reforms should see that this evidence receives careful consideration in a timely fashion and without duplication in process or compromising the ability of local communities to participate.
“We look forward to seeing the detail of these amendments, but note that the they are only the first step towards ensuring the New Zealand economy and environment receives the full benefit of wind energy’s potential,” says Mr Clark
“Having recognised the need to improve national guidance, the Government should move quickly to implement a strong National Policy Statement on Renewable Electricity Generation and adopt the New Zealand Standard 6808 (the standard for measuring and assessing sound from wind turbines) as an National Environmental Standard.”
The New Zealand Wind Energy Association (NZWEA) is an industry association that works towards the development of wind as a reliable, sustainable, clean and commercially viable energy source. We aim to fairly represent wind energy to the public, government and the energy sector. Our members include about 80 companies involved in New Zealand’s wind energy sector, including electricity generators, wind farm developers, lines companies, turbine manufacturers, consulting firms, researchers and law firms. For more information visit www.windenergy.org.nz.