Time for me to front up on wind power. As I mentioned last year, our local lines company, Mainpower, is planning a windfarm on the ridge of Mt Cass above the eastern edge of the Waipara Valley. That’s a good chunk of the skyline visible from my veranda. Some of it will be hidden behind Mt Brown, but I’ll still have windmills to tilt at (though no donkey). The resource consent application has now been lodged with the Hurunui District Council [here]. Getting that together has been a major undertaking for one of HT’s regular commenters, Andrew Hurley, as he blogs at the Mainpower development blog (needs more posts Andrew!). There’s a lot of interesting stuff both in the application and in Mainpower’s resource pages.
Here’s the rub. I think global warming’s a huge problem, and subscribe to the view that we need to do more to encourage electricity generation from renewable resources. So can I overcome my latent nimbyism (what, big white things whirring on the skyline?) and welcome the windfarm? To that, the answer is yes. But then the issue becomes complex. Mainpower are asking for consent to build within a “design envelope” which stretches from a lot of little turbines, to a smaller number of really big ones. Which is the least visually intrusive? Depends where you’re looking from.
I’m pondering the options. The little turbines would be more or less invisible from my house – certainly not intrusive – but they would generate the least power and cover the largest area. I’m tempted to prefer the really big turbines, for a variety of reasons. Smaller ecological footprint and significantly greater power generation, but big 125m towers. That would mean making the most of the power available from a good site, and perhaps limit the need for a rash of sites in areas of greater visual beauty.
Submissions close on August 1st. I’m open to debate…