New QEII covenant established at White Hill wind farm

A 150 hectare covenant has been established at Meridian’s White Hill wind farm near Mossburn, recognising the environmental significance of the area.

The White Hill Open Space Covenant is home to 140 native species of flora and fauna, including New Zealand pipit and a pair of nesting New Zealand falcons. The covenant area also includes beech forest, regenerating forest, shrub land, red tussock, wetland and rock outcrops.

Meridian Energy wind asset manager Peter Mason says Meridian worked with the Department of Conservation and QEII National Trust to identify the environmental attributes of the land, resulting in the decision to formally protect it with a QEII covenant.

“To help the area regenerate we have fenced it and put in place extensive trapping across the wind farm and around the falcon nesting sites. This includes possum bait stations and traps to catch stoats, rats, hedge hogs, weasels and other pests.

“We are also maintaining the area from wilding pines and trialling biological control agents for gorse and broom control. This allows us to control the weeds in hard to reach places, without using poisons.”

QEII National Trust’s Jesse Bythell says it is simply wonderful that Meridian has protected this diverse sequence of vegetation and the White Hill Wind Farm team is making such good progress with pest and weed control.

“Most of the native vegetation in the Taringatura Ecological District has been removed over time, and that which remains is highly modified with very little of it formally protected. What Meridian is doing will ensure the protection of some of the remaining remnants, which will protect a wide range of species in perpetuity,” says Ms Bythell.

The establishment of the QEII covenant marks White Hill wind farm’s 10th anniversary. The wind farm’s 29 wind turbines started generating electricity in June 2007. At the time, the occasion was celebrated with Prime Minister Helen Clark officially opening the wind farm.

“We’re pleased to be able to recognise the significance of White Hill to the Southland community with the establishment of this covenant,” says Mr Mason.

In January 2017 maintenance of the turbines came in-house, with Meridian taking over from the turbine manufacturer. Four technicians were employed by Meridian as part of this transition.

New QEII Covenant 1Meridian’s Peter Mason with a pest trap at White Hill Open Space Covenant

New QEII Covenant 2View of the White Hill Open Space Covenant and wind farm

New QEII Covenant 3

A species of native anemone tenuicaulis (At Risk – Naturally Uncommon) in the White Hill Open Space Covenant 

Image credits: QEII National Trust’s Jesse Bythell

New QEII Covenant 4Nesting New Zealand falcons at White Hill Open Space Covenant

New QEII Covenant 5

New Zealand falcon chick at White Hill Open Space Covenant

Images from Meridian’s motion sensing cameras at White Hill Open Space Covenant.