The next step towards a controversial $2 billion wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago will be made public next week.
A report by Central Otago District Council-contracted planner David Whitney on Project Hayes has been completed and will be made public after the Easter break, the council’s planning and environment manager Louise Van der Voort said.
If the wind farm proceeds it could become the biggest in the southern hemisphere with up to 176 turbines on 92 square kilometres in the Styx-Paerau Valley, 50km south of Ranfurly.
It would potentially generate up to 630MW, more power than the Benmore hydro-electric station and enough to supply 260,000 homes.
After the release of the new report, a panel of Central Otago District councillors led by independent commissioner John Matthews will decide on the proposal, guided by the report as well as submissions and evidence received during a public resource-consent hearing starting on April 30.
Whitney’s recommendations remained secret yesterday but artist Grahame Sydney said he hoped they would oppose the proposal.
“I’d be severely disappointed if the planner recommended the council approve consent,” Sydney said.
“It’s a dreadful application and very ill-timed. It’s an inadequately researched experiment. There’s going to be a dogfight whichever way it goes.”
Central Otago Mayor Malcolm Macpherson believes whatever decision the council’s panel makes, it is likely to be appealed to the Environment Court.
There has been widespread opposition to the proposal from farmers in the area and high-profile advocates for the environment based in Central Otago, including All Black Anton Oliver and writer Brian Turner.
It is also opposed by the Department of Conservation’s Otago office, which says the application does not adequately address aspects of the biodiversity of the area.
By Debbie Jamieson in Alexandra
7 April 2007
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