Wind farm proposal near Raglan to be called inEnvironment
Environment Minister Trevor Mallard today announced he intends to call in a renewable energy development proposal for a 180-turbine wind farm near Raglan so it is considered by an independent Board of Inquiry.
Contact Wind Limited and Contact Energy Limited are applying to build the Hauauru ma Raki wind farm on the Waikato west coast, eight kilometres north of Raglan.
Under section 141A of the Resource Management Act, the minister can call in a proposal if it is deemed to be of national significance and direct that the matter is referred to either a Board of Inquiry, or the Environment Court. In this case, the matter will be decided by a Board instead of the relevant regional and district councils. This proposal affects Environment Waikato, Franklin District Council and Waikato District Council.
"I consider this proposal to be of national significance. It is relevant to New Zealand’s obligations to the global environment in terms of the Kyoto Protocol. In addition, the proposal will have direct physical effects on more than one region – in this case, the Franklin and Waikato Districts and the Waikato region. In terms of security of electricity supply, the proposal will have potential effects beyond these areas," Trevor Mallard said.
"This wind farm is expected to meet the electricity needs of about 180,000 households per year.
"I have considered the views of the councils affected by his decision to intervene, and that while they have the capacity to process and decide the applications, the proposal’s national significance means a call-in process is necessary.
"The applications will be considered in line with the relevant district and regional plans. Local council expertise and processes will be used where possible, and the Board of Inquiry will consider submissions from the public and hold hearings," Trevor Mallard said.
The applications will be publicly notified in September and the members of the Board of Inquiry will be announced shortly.
Questions and answers: call-in of proposed Hauauru ma Raki wind farm project
What is a call-in?
Under section 141A of the Resource Management Act, the minister can call-in a project by directing that the matter is referred to either
• a Board of Inquiry, or
• the Environment Court
This means that the matter is decided by either of these two bodies instead of the relevant district, city or regional councils. The call-in process effectively combines the councils’ consideration and the Environment Court appeal process. The decision of a Board of Inquiry or the Environment Court can only be appealed to the High Court on points of law.
Why is the Hauauru ma Raki proposal being called in?
Because the minister considers it to be a project of national significance. The minister has made a formal assessment against the following criteria:
a. The proposal is relevant to New Zealand’s international obligations to the global environment in terms of the Kyoto Protocol, including the proposal’s contribution towards the achievement of the target of 90per cent of electricity generation to be from renewable energy sources by 2025 as set out in the New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050. The proposal would likely assist New Zealand in meeting its international obligations to the global environment by helping to avoid an increase in carbon dioxide emissions overall on a national scale.
b. The proposal affects or is likely to affect more than one region or district. The proposal will have direct physical effects on the Franklin and Waikato Districts and the Waikato region.
What is the Board of Inquiry and how does it work?
A Board of Inquiry must be chaired by a current, former or retired Environment Court judge. It can have a total of three to five members.
The Board of Inquiry decides whether to commission any reports and it will also establish the process for hearing public submissions on the Hauauru ma Raki proposal. The duration of the hearing will depend on the number and nature of submissions.
Following the hearing, the Board of Inquiry will issue a draft decision. Councils, submitters, the applicant and the minister then have an opportunity to comment before the Board makes its final decision.
How can people have a say in this process?
Once the minister has formally called-in and publicly notified the Hauauru ma Raki proposal in September, any person may make a submission to the minister about the proposal. The closing date for submissions is 20 working days after public notification of the proposal.
The Board of Inquiry will receive the written submissions and also hold public hearings to listen to the submitters who indicate they wish to speak at the hearing.
What specific matters will a Board of Inquiry have to consider?
It will have to consider the resource consent applications Contact Wind Limited lodged with the relevant councils to build the 180 turbine Hauauru ma Raki wind farm. The resource consent applications include:
• Land use consents for all activities associated with the construction, operation and maintenance of a wind farm;
• Earthworks for roading, tracking and soil disturbance activities;
• Water takes and stream bed works.
It will also have to consider the related notices of requirement for transmission assets lodged by Contact Energy Limited that are required to connect the wind farm to the national grid. These include:
• Three substations to collect the output from the wind farm;
• A single circuit 220kv transmission line of approximately 23.7km connecting the substations;
• A double circuit 220kv transmission line, approximately 25.3km in length, connecting the northernmost substation and a new switching station located adjacent to the existing Huntly to Otahuhu A 220kv transmission line;
• The connection from the new switching station to the existing Huntly to Otahuhu line.