Forest and Bird would look at supporting smaller wind farm projects, such as the one near Gore by TrustPower, but not Project Hayes.
Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society vice-president Janet Ledingham told the commissioners hearing Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes application yesterday the group was not sure whether other places in Central Otago would be suitable for wind farms.
“Central Otago is one of the most difficult areas because of the landscape,” she said.
Otago-Southland field officer Susan Maturin said the wind farm site contained significant areas of threatened species of plants and animals including the New Zealand falcon.
“There are intrinsic values of the site which will be lost and degraded.
There are potential adverse impacts on the habitats of rare plants, wetlands, fish, invertebrates, lizards and falcons,” she said.
The New Zealand falcon is known to nest in the Loganburn Gorge within the northern third of the proposed wind farm site, and in the Taieri Gorge, on the south-western edge.
They also hunt on the site area.
But there were concerns about falcons colliding with the wind turbines as they were unable to process high-speed motion.
Ms Maturin said falcons could also become displaced from their preferred habitat, resulting in reduced breeding and reduced survival.Forest and Bird believed other proposed wind farm sites in Otago and Southland may be preferable, having fewer adverse effects on the landscape and areas of significant indigenous vegetation and fauna.
“It appears there is a wind farm rush in Otago and Southland, akin to the gold rush of the 1800s and the more recent gold rush for aquaculture sites, as companies are racing to all get in first and establish dominance,” she said.
By Aimee Wilson
1 June 2007
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