Central Otago District Council began considering an application for the country’s largest windfarm on Monday.
Meridian Energy wants to build up to 176 wind turbines, covering 92 square kilometres, with a generation capacity of 630 megawatts, on the Lammermoor Range between Alexandra and Dunedin.
More than 1000 submissions have been received on Project Hayes, with slightly more than half of them in favour of the project.
Meridian Energy sought to prevent the district council holding the hearings by petitioning the environment minister, saying the council is not equipped to deal with such a large and complex hearings process.
But the Government refused to intervene, and on Monday a panel began hearing submissions from more than 200 people.
Meridian Energy told the hearing the farm will help cut the country’s carbon emissions. It also said it does not consider the Lammermoor Range to be an outstanding natural landscape, citing several legal precedents to support this view.
Meridian lawyer Andrew Beatson told the hearing a public survey found that the land is ranked lowly against other landscapes in the region.
The company says other windfarms in New Zealand have already been built on or near outstanding natural landscapes with support of the Environment Court.
The hearing is expected to take at least three weeks.
30 April 2007
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