Meetings ‘a waste of time’

Not listening. . . Tuturau resident Dave Kowalewski says the Contact Energy community drop in sessions give the appearance the company is interested in hearing feedback about its proposed Southland Windfarm but the company will not take notice of what people say and will go ahead with their plans anyway. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Holding a community drop-in about the proposed Southland wind farm is a waste of time, Tuturau resident Dave Kowalewski says.
This week, Contact Energy staff met with Wyndham district community members about the proposed $700 million wind farm near Slopedown.
It was the second community drop-in event where residents were able to view plans for the wind farm and chat to staff.
The project has received fast track consenting process approval from former minister of the environment David Parker.
When the fast-tracking option is taken, the Environmental Protection Authority convenes a panel of experts who assess the application.
Mr Kowalewski said the community drop-in he attended was no more than ‘‘smoke and mirrors’’ or ‘‘a magician’s sleight of hand’’.
‘‘They’re trying to make you feel like you’ve been heard and you’ve got a voice, but you haven’t.’’
The fast-track consenting process was not going to allow people to have input into a project that would ‘‘drastically affect their lives’’.
‘‘I hate that.
‘‘I think that’s corrupt.’’
He was also concerned about the visual effect of the turbines, both day and night.
The South was one of the best places to see the Southern Lights (aurora australis), but having turbines with blinking lights on the landscape would spoil the view of the phenomenon.
‘‘It’s polluting the night sky.’’
Mimihau resident Robert Muir, 10, lives about 4km from where some of the turbines will be sited.
He thought having turbines on the tops of the hills was ‘‘kind of annoying’’, Robert said.
‘‘They block out all the view.
‘‘I won’t be able to see the sunrise.’’
He was concerned he would not be able to hunt the deer living in the forestry block on the hills beneath the turbines.
‘‘The windmills will probably be quite loud and scare all the deer away.’’
The noise of the turbines might also keep him awake at night, he said.
‘‘I would much rather have a dam as an energy [source].’’
Contact head of wind and solar Matthew Cleland said about about 60 residents attended the two-day drop-in.
‘‘It was a similar mix from prior open days.
‘‘A range of people that were supportive, a bunch of people that were interested in more information and people that were opposed and did not want to see the wind farm go ahead.’’
The company would continue to be open and transparent.
‘‘We’ll continue to provide information, answer questions and continue to engage with people.’’