Minister decides board of inquiry best process for Turitea wind farm proposal

  • Nick Smith

Environment Minister Nick Smith today announced his decision to refer the Mighty River Power proposal for a 131-turbine wind farm at Turitea, near Palmerston North, to an independent Board of Inquiry.

"A Board of Inquiry chaired by an Environment Court Judge is the most transparent and fair way to decide the outcome of this significant wind farm proposal.

"This project is of a size and scale that justifies a board inquiry. I have consulted with local councils on the make up of the Board and appointed members they were intending to use as commissioners or were nominated to me.

"The Ministry for the Environment is also in discussion with Horizons Regional Council on playing an administrative role to support the Board to ensure the process is as accessible as possible to the affected communities."

The Board to decide the wind farm is:

  • Judge Craig Thompson (Chairman)
  • Vivian Kloosterman (environmental engineer)
  • John Hudson (landscape architect)
  • Richard Heerdegen (resource management consultant)
  • Chris Shenton (iwi project manager)

"This is a very talented board with the right mix of skills to make this important decision in a considered and careful way.

"I have delayed the public notification until late January so people are not disadvantage by the holiday period in making submissions. I will be publicly notifying the wind farm on 24 January 2008 with submissions closing on 23 February 2008.

"This is a very significant wind farm that traverses public land within the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, Palmerston North City and Tararua District and has widespread public interest.

"I also believe there were risks of the Palmerston North City Council being open to claims of bias and appeal because of it being the owner of the reserve land where the wind farm is proposed.

"I have chosen a Board of Inquiry in preference to direct referral to the Environment Court because the process is more informal and better for submitters who may not have legal representation.

"I have been very mindful in appointing the Board of the local interest in the proposal. This thorough process will ensure we get a robust and timely decision."