Wed, Feb 7, 2024 10:27 AM
Bemused neighbours of a new proposed solar farm installation claim developers haven’t been careful enough when it comes to due process.
The solar installation, proposed for a paddock at 712 Dillon’s Point Road, is due to start construction work once council consents have been approved.
However, neighbours say the land, purchased for $1.3million by Energy Marlborough, a subsidiary of Marlborough Lines, is unsuitable for the farm installation.
Concerns include environmental, ecological, and financial factors which developers will have to contend with, neighbours claim.
“Energy Marlborough's persistence with this project is strangely puzzling, given the obvious drawbacks of the site”, says concerned locals in a letter to the Marlborough Weekly.
“Not only will access be difficult in winter, but also there will have to be a considerable investment in infrastructure such as upgrading of the lines on Hardings Road.
“After the massive amount of work and disruption it will take to get the solar farm running and when it has issues or doesn’t perform as expected, who pays the bill of getting the panels removed or do they just rot?”, said one, speaking to the Weekly.
Neighbours say they feel left in limbo since plans were announced and contest developer claims of open and early planning engagement.
Without proactive actions on the consenting website, or curiosity asking contractors doing preparation work, locals wouldn’t have known about the project on their doorstep, they say.
Subsequent concerns about their “little oasis against the oncoming tide of viticulture” have left residents feeling dismissed by Energy Marlborough after meeting with representatives in person and online.
Marlborough Lines is owned by Marlborough Electric Power Trust on behalf of electricity users in the Marlborough region.
Locals say that despite promised mitigation efforts, having an industrial installation in a rural zone, and adding electricity and metal to a place where, water, wind and salt are prevalent makes an unsuitable combination for the proposed 3.5-meter-tall solar installations.
The paddock regularly floods and has standing water on it throughout winter, residents say.
It is situated in an orange tsunami warning zone, a very high wind zone and a liquefaction prone area with almost 40 meters of unstable silty soil beneath the site.
The proximity of the farm to the ecologically important Wairau Lagoons is also worrying to nearby residents.
Fears of leaching metals and plastics into environmentally valuable and vulnerable areas with the farm on the doorstep of the Wairau Lagoons,
“Our experiences dealing with Energy Marlborough do not give us hope that our concerns will be taken seriously”, continue neighbours.
“Their attitude of ‘We're prepared to take that risk’, their professed transparency, their claims of construction time, and the comparisons with the Taylor Pass installation and with vineyard development are facile and superficial.”
When approached by the Marlborough Weekly, Marlborough Lines Commercial Manager Scott Wilkinson said they are aware of the concerns of the involved Dillon’s Point Road residents and have held discussions with them.
“EML, like for any site, is undertaking necessary investigations and studies to mitigate technical and commercial risks”, Scott says.
“We will follow the process required under the local authority’s (Marlborough District Council’s) Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan”.
You can have your say through the Marlborough District Council’s Resource Consent Submission Process available at https://www.marlborough.govt.nz/services/resource-consents/publicly-notified-resource-consent-applications