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Community Perception and Acceptance of Wind Farms

Dr Bob Thorne


The Turitea wind farm hearing has heard professional opinion concerning community perception and acceptance of wind farms. The Palmerston North City Council commissioned a social impact assessment (expert: Baines JT). The developer commissioned a public perception survey (expert: Kalafatelis E). The overall impression given, however, by the Baines and Kalafatelis evidence is that the community generally accepts wind farm development subject to checks and balances. Kalafatelis notes that:

“Overall, 60 percent or three times as many respondents supported the proposal, with one-third (34 percent) ‘strongly supporting’ it. In contrast, 18 percent opposed the proposal with nine percent ‘strongly opposing’ it."

Research by Wild[134] has been undertaken in New Zealand as to submitters opinions and attitudes to wind farms between the submissions period and post-commissioning. Research by Graham, Stephenson and Smith[135] has also provided studies into the public perceptions of wind energy developments. It is not in the scope of this Paper to review the studies. Part of the conclusion presented in the study by Graham, Stephenson and Smith perhaps best sums up the complexity of opinion:

“… understanding the multiple factors that underlie resistance or support for wind energy developments is a crucial step in informing renewable energy policy.…”

Included in these factors are, of course, visual and noise perception.

Before Turitea there has been two significant wind farm perception studies conducted in the Manawatu. Both relate to the Motorimu development, not now continuing. The studies are different in their application.

A study by Dr K. Mosley[204] was instituted regarding perceived sound and vibration affecting (or not affecting) homes in the township of Ashhurst. The survey asked residents to record their discomfort levels concerning vibration and noise intrusion within their homes and to indicate the degree of sleep disturbance. The importance of this study is that it provides an indication of adverse effect on residents more than 3000–3500 metres from the nearest row of turbines within different wind farms...


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