"Residents forced to leave their homes when noise gets unbearable" (New Zealand)

Dec 12, 2009



Image pinched from Wind Concerns Ontario

—Kiran Chug, The Dominion Post (11/25/09)

Makara residents are lodging about 100 complaints a month over a Meridian Energy wind farm, leading the company to look at ways to make the turbines quieter.

The energy giant monitors noise levels at four sites at the West Wind farm, and is subject to stringent resource consent rules.

That data is also analysed by Wellington City Council. Compliance manager Matthew Borich said the council would not be able to say with certainty until next year whether the project was breaking any restrictions.

Although there was “no evidence to date” of non-compliance, Mr Borich said the controls were so complex, it would take until February for the council to gather enough data to be certain.

Residents say they are kept up at night and forced to leave their homes in the day when the noise gets too unbearable.

A noise meter is positioned on Ingrid Renner’s land, but she said it was not picking up the sounds residents actually heard.

“The other day I just jumped in my car and went to Karori to get away. It was unbearable here.”

Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay said the company wanted to be a “good neighbour” and was working with engineers and turbine suppliers Siemens to work out if changes could be made to reduce the problems. However, he said the company was confident it was complying with conditions.

Turbines at West Wind can be computerised to spin at different speeds depending on different wind conditions, which can reduce noise levels.

Mrs Renner said the work had led to some improvement over the last month, but that the noise limits need to be lowered. “It doesn’t sound like a boom box anymore.”

Lynne Carter, who lives nearby, said she resorted to playing loud music to hide the sound. She often chose to go out on particularly noisy days.

The 62-turbine wind farm started operating in April and has been fully operational since the beginning of October.

It has a generating capacity of 142 megawatts, and the potential to provide power to the equivalent of 70,000 homes.

Makara Noise Complaints

* October 92
* September 121
* August 149
* July 70
* June 6
* May 34
* April 7


Martinborough residents are upping the ante in their opposition to Meridian Energy’s plans to build a wind farm near the town.

A petition is to be launched in the next few weeks, following a heated community meeting earlier this month.

The state-owned power company is looking at the possibility of erecting up to 50 turbines on a ridge to the north of the ridge known as Nga Waka O Kupe, about eight kilometres southeast of the town’s square.

Richard Riddiford, Palliser Estate vineyard’s managing director and a fifth generation Martinborough resident, said Meridian had to be stopped.

“Power companies like Meridian seem to pick on small communities in the hope they are easier to divide in opinion.”

Meridian is yet to seek resource consent, though it has active test sites in the hills.

A company spokesman said Meridian was still actively exploring the Martinborough wind farm option.

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