The effects of the world’s largest wind farm will stretch for many kilometres beyond its proposed Central Otago site, commissioners hearing Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes application were told yesterday.
The company wants to build 176 wind turbines, each up to 160m tall, on the remote Lammermoor mountain range.
The $2 billion project will be the largest in the world if it is completed.
The Dunedin City Council’s landscape architect, Barry Knox, told the Central Otago District Council-appointed commissioners the proposed site was immediately adjacent to the Dunedin City Council boundary and would be visible from much of the landscape, including land zoned as High Country outstanding landscape area.
The visual impact of the towers extended beyond the “arbitrary boundaries” between the councils, he said.
“The whole landscape I consider as a coherent entity.”
It would be particularly visible from areas within the Dunedin City boundaries between three to four kilometres from the turbines.
The turbines would adversely affect visual amenity and “less tangible qualities such as recognition of the existing openness, wilderness and isolation inherent in this landscape”, he said.
Representing the Riccarton Road Action Group, Mosgiel resident Glen Munn said Meridian planned to use its rural/residential road for five years to transport equipment to the site.
However, the effects of 128 vehicle movements a day, including large trucks sometimes carrying 58.5m turbines, on the 120 homes on Riccarton Road were not within the commissioners’ jurisdiction as they were also outside the Central Otago boundaries.
“We are stuck outside ““ forgotten,” Munn said.
The group was concerned for the safety of people walking and biking along the narrow road, horses, and children waiting for buses.
Professor Alan Mark, Emeritus Professor of Botany at the University of Otago, said he had worked extensively with Meridian on previous applications but believed the major ecological, environmental and landscape impacts of Project Hayes made it unacceptable.
Like the Royal Forest and Bird Society he was concerned about effects on snow tussock on the proposed site and the effects on nearby Te Papanui Conservation Park ““ Otago’s only tussock land park.
“As time goes on the value of those conservation areas will become more important … to have four towers on land along the boundary, I think, is totally unacceptable in the long term.”
Forest and Bird Otago-Southland field officer Sue Maturin said proposed mitigations were inadequate to protect an abundance of threatened plant, bird and gecko species.
By Debbie Jamieson
1 June 2007
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