Fri, Apr 19, 2024 11:11 AM

South Marlborough solar farm plan to go to consent hearing


Maia Hart

A proposal to install a solar farm in south Marlborough will go to a hearing in May despite Marlborough Lines’ attempts to resolve opposition.

Marlborough Lines, through its subsidiary Energy Marlborough, has applied for resource consent to build a solar farm in Ward over two different blocks currently used for grazing.

The farms, adjacent to Seddon St and Tachalls Rd, would have up to 60,000 solar panels on about 11 hectares, the application said. Both sites were near Ward School.

The installation and operation of the solar farm required a discretionary activity land use consent under the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan.

In a decision from independent commissioner Antoinette Besier, she concluded the proposal, which received a handful of submissions both in support and against it, would need to go to a resource consent hearing before a final decision would be made on the application.

Marlborough Lines had managed to resolve the concerns of some submitters opposing the application.

A solar farm is planned for a site adjacent to Tachells Rd in Ward. (File photo) SUPPLIED: LDR

However, one submitter still wanted to speak at a hearing on the proposed solar farm. That submitter owned a property in Ward that was unoccupied.

His submission said he had safety concerns regarding electromagnetic fields.

“At the very least, the application should be amended/modified so that there is a safe distance between the solar power installation and the residents and school children who will endure long-term exposure to it,” he said.

Marlborough Lines had met with the concerned homeowner multiple times over the last 11 months, Besier’s decision said.

Besier said she thought Marlborough Lines had made “responsible and reasonable” efforts to address concerns raised by the submitter.

But Besier said the submission was not “detailed” and there could be expert evidence at the hearing that substantiated his concerns, or he could speak to concerns himself.

“I do not consider that this is a clear case,” Besier said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency Waka Kotahi was one of the initial opponents, due to limited details about the proposed panels.

“Notably, the panel dimensions, maximum mounting height, panel arrangement, orientation, and tilt angle have not been confirmed.

“It is difficult to understand the potential glint and glare effects associated with the panels in the absence of this information.

“Further, the application has not stated whether there is to be any outdoor site lighting or security lighting.”

It was possible the panels would cause “dazzling" that could make it hard for drivers to on the road.

The Ministry of Education was also concerned about adverse effects on Ward School from the solar farm.

But both parties withdrew their submissions after discussions with Marlborough Lines.

The application also received submissions in support.

Marlborough Lines had also lodged a resource consent application in March for a solar farm on Dillons Point Rd, east of Blenheim, which it had discussed with neighbours last year.


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.

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