A Government submission in favour of Meridian Energy’s proposed Central Otago wind farm says it will benefit all New Zealand, a hearing was told yesterday.
Crown Law office solicitor Roanna Chen told commissioners hearing the application in Alexandra that the Government recognised “the many positive benefits this proposed wind farm would have on achieving the Government’s current and future policy”.
However, commissioner David McMahon questioned the “whole of Government” approach when a key department, the Department of Conservation (DOC), had submitted separately against the proposal.
“I find that a bit of an anomaly given the position of DOC,” he said.
Chen said DOC was focused on local adverse effects and the Crown hoped suitable conditions could be imposed to deal with them.
Environment Ministry climate change policy manager Philip Gurnsey said Environment Minister David Benson-Pope had considered submissions by locals, but they did not change Government support for the project.
The large-scale wind farm would help the Government achieve its commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and meet the increasing national demand for electricity, he said.
Yesterday marked the first day of hearing submissions in support of the $2 billion, 176-turbine wind farm on the Lammermoor Range after the completion of Meridian Energy’s two-week long case.
More than 1000 people and groups submitted on the proposal, with equal numbers opposing and supporting it.
People in opposition to the proposal are expected to begin presenting evidence on Tuesday.
The owners of the remote Glen Ayr farm, where 19 of the turbines are to be sited, spoke in favour of the project.
Farmer Tom Aitken said the project was a “God-given opportunity to solve the energy crisis of New Zealand”.
Drew Dundass, who also farms the Glen Ayr property, said farming had never been tougher.
“To us, Project Hayes seems like a blessing in such difficult times, offering us a new source of income when our options as farmers are extremely limited.”
The hearing for the Hayes project yesterday coincided with one in Dunedin for a smaller wind farm.
Trustpower told a hearing yesterday that its proposed 100-turbine development at Lake Mahinerangi, 50km from Dunedin, would have a minimal impact on the environment or nearby landowners.
The project had been scaled down from a 600Mw farm to one with an output of 200Mw and 40 per cent less turbines, the submission said. The Ministry of Economic Development supported it.
By Debbie Jamieson and Kim Thomas
11 May 2007
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