The Government will not intervene in the hearings for Project Hayes.
The final tally of submissions reveals 524 support the project, 521 oppose it and 17 neither support nor oppose it.
In a statement to the Otago Daily Times, the Minister for the Environment, David Benson-Pope, said the local council (the Central Otago District Council) had expressed a willingness to deal with the issue independently and had not requested ministerial intervention under section 141(a) of the Resource Management Act.
He said that fitted with the Government’s policy of enabling local communities to make their own decisions over those matters.
“This is an issue of national significance, which is why Government made a “˜whole of Government’ submission to the council on this matter,” Mr Benson-Pope said.
Under section 141A of the RMA, the Minister for the Environment has the power to intervene, having considered the factors of national significance, the local authority’s capacity, and the appropriate power to be exercised.
Those powers include making a submission for the Crown when a matter is, or is part of, a proposal of national significance.
Those factors include the widespread public interest regarding the actual or likely effect of the proposal on the environment, the significant use of natural and physical resources and the effects on more than one district or region given that the benefits of the proposal are likely to be national in effect.
The Ministry for the Environment submission fully supports the wind farm, citing the clean renewable energy source as one of the main reasons, as well as the reduction in carbon emissions.
The director-general of Conservation is making a separate submission which looks at the effects at a local level especially the impacts on flora and fauna habitats and ecologically sensitive areas.
Offsite adverse effects of construction and the management of construction and operational risks such as weed incursion, increased fire risk and water pollution are among the concerns that will be covered.
Other concerns include heritage features and archeological sites, as well as impacts on recreational users.
The CODC expects the hearings will take place after March.
By Diane Brown
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