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Hawke’s Bay Airport: Delay in huge solar farm project to power airport

Editor Written by Editor · 1 min read >

An artist impression of what the solar farm could look like.

A project to build a huge solar farm next to Hawke’s Bay Airport has hit delays, but the airport says it is still committed to the bold plans.

The project includes plans to install 52,000 solar panels on airport land west of the runway.

The project could cost up to $35 million and was announced in 2019 by the airport, to help it become carbon-neutral.

If completed, the solar farm will produce enough electricity to power the entire airport on the outskirts of Napier and also put electricity back into the local grid.

However, a resource consent application has yet to be lodged – after delays in the process.

A new partner was found for the project in 2022, Manawa Energy (formerly Trustpower), and it was hoped the consenting process would be completed in 2023 so construction could start in 2024.

There are now no set timeframes for when construction could begin.

A Hawke’s Bay Airport spokesperson said “assessments” were still being completed before the resource consent application could be lodged with Napier City Council.

The airport and Manawa Energy wanted to ensure everything was done well.

“It goes without saying we would have preferred to be further advanced by now, but we think it’s important we take the time to get it right and engage appropriately with those who may be interested in the proposed project before launching directly into the consenting process.”

The spokesperson said the project remained a “firm priority”.

A potential site for the proposed solar panel farm, to the west of the airport's runway. Photo / Supplied
A potential site for the proposed solar panel farm, to the west of the airport’s runway. Photo / Supplied

“We are making good progress and once we’ve completed our due diligence we’ll be looking to advance our consent application as soon as possible.”

Search for a new CEO

Hawke’s Bay Airport is continuing its search for a new CEO after Rob Stratford resigned from the top job earlier this year.

Stratford finished up at the end of January. The airport’s management team has been in charge since, with the support of the board and directors.

“The board has initiated a process to appoint a CEO and the role is currently advertised,” the spokesperson said.

“The board hopes to make an appointment as soon as is practical, but as is typical for such leadership roles, it is unlikely the appointee will be able to start quickly.”

The airport is jointly owned by the Crown, Napier City Council and Hastings District Council.

Gary Hamilton-Irvine is a Hawke’s Bay-based reporter who covers a range of news topics including business, councils, breaking news and cyclone recovery. He formerly worked at News Corp Australia.

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