Wind farms co-exist with other rural activities and have many benefits for farmers and landowners, including a new income stream and improved site access.
Traditional agriculture can continue underneath and around the wind farm, once construction is complete. The footprint of the turbines and access tracks is usually about 1 to 3 per cent of the total wind farm land area. Once the wind farm is built a farmer is typically able to resume normal farming operations on the remaining 97 to 99 per cent of the wind farm.
If you want to host a wind farm on your land, your will need to consider a range of factors such as the suitability of the site, legal agreements, construction impacts and the effect of the wind farm on other activities.
There may be disruption to normal farming activities during the construction of a wind farm, including frequent traffic movements. However, developers are experienced at working with farmers to manage any such disruption.
The construction will typically require between six and 18 months. Impact on livestock is minimal during this time provided that there is good communication between farm management and the construction team.
Electric fences can be used to control stock as gates will generally need to be left open during construction hours to minimise delays to traffic. All weather access tracks will be built to link the wind turbines and these can dramatically improve access across the property. New fencing and gates may be required where access tracks cross existing fence lines.
The impact of an operating wind farm on livestock is minimal. Sheep, cows and horses are not disturbed by wind turbines and typically graze right up to the base of the towers, which they often use as rubbing posts or for shade.
Normal sowing patterns may be disrupted as it is likely that turbines will end up on productive land. Nonetheless careful planning and consultation will enable the landowner and developer to come to a mutually acceptable agreement.
Generally pivot irrigators cannot be used in the vicinity of wind turbines because of the large area that they occupy.
Depending on the site, agricultural aviation such as crop dusting or super phosphate spreading may be impacted. Agricultural pilots are highly trained and operate very manoeuvrable aircraft at extremely low altitudes. Consequently they are best placed to assess any potential hazards.
Extensive tree planting can slow the wind and cause turbulence and both of these factors will reduce the commercial returns generated by the wind farm. Stock shelters and environmental plantings can normally be accommodated.
Construction of new residences or other buildings may need to be agreed by both the wind farm developer and landowner. This may be due to either the impacts on the wind resource or, in the case of occupied buildings, noise criteria. Detailed noise modelling during the planning phase can provide a very good idea of ‘no-go’ zones for future residences.
Contact a wind farm developer
Most wind farm developers in New Zealand are members of the New Zealand Wind Energy Association. View our members page to find the contact details of developers.