By TANYA KATTERNS – The Dominion Post, via stuff.co.nz

Genesis Energy is pushing ahead with its latest wind farm project and has applied for resource consent for a development in northern Wairarapa.

The proposed Castle Hill Wind Farm would be spread over 30,000 hectares of land 20 kilometres northeast of Masterton in the south and 20km east of Eketahuna in the north.

The project was first signalled early last year, with wind monitoring and engineering studies carried out on the site in the past 12 months.

Genesis has signed land-use agreements with 27 landowners, though only 4000 hectares of the site is suitable for a wind farm.

It must also gain consent from Horizons Regional Council, Tararua District Council, Greater Wellington regional council and Masterton District Council.

Just how many wind turbines there would be, exactly where they would sit on the site and their size is still undecided.

Genesis chief executive Albert Brantley said the decision to apply for resource consents for the project was a major step forward for the company’s plan to increase its portfolio of renewable energy.

“We have a target to consent and construct 300MW of new renewable energy generation by 2015. However, as a commercially driven business, we will focus on any economically viable project.”

The Castle Hill project could be built in stages over several years, he said.

The exact size and shape of the site would become clear early next year, when details were finalised.

It was too early to say how many homes the wind farm would power or what it would cost to build.

A spokesman said the proposed wind farm would be “well off the beaten track” and would not be visible from Masterton, Eketahuna or Pahiatua.

Genesis already has the Hau Nui 15-turbine wind farm near Martinborough, one of the first to be built in New Zealand. The company was also looking at the potential for Haunui 3, just west of the existing wind farm.

However, a planned wind farm development plan by Meridian Energy on a range behind Martinborough known as Nga Waka a Kupe – the canoes of Kupe – was put on hold earlier this year.

Meridian had proposed putting up 45 turbines, 130 metres to 145m high, but the proposal met heavy opposition in Martinborough. The company is now waiting for the outcome of a study into Wairarapa landscapes before applying for resource consent.

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