Moving from manicured rugby field to the wind-blasted hills of Central Otago, All Black Anton Oliver is lending his muscle to a campaign against a proposed $2b wind farm.
Oliver will make a detailed submission against Meridian Energy’s 176-turbine Lammermore Range wind farm, called Project Hayes, at a resource consent hearing on Tuesday.
Situated near Dunedin, the 630MW wind farm is planned to be big enough to power every home in the South Island. The first stage would produce about 150 MW, with Meridian building more turbines as demand increased.
However, the project is opposed by local residents, who want to protect the tussock-clad ranges from 160-metre-high turbines and 12-metre-wide access roads.
A committed environmentalist, All Black hooker Oliver said the proposal was part of a politically-motivated rush to appear green, with little real pay-off for New Zealand consumers.
“When you look at the practicalities and economics of wind farms overseas, Meridian’s and the government’s claims that this wind farm will ensure security of supply and help Mr and Mrs Consumer are quite outrageous,” Oliver said.
“Meridian’s campaign seems to have been one of half truths, misinformation and fudging information. The more I have looked into it, the more this has seemed to me tantamount to a government-sanctioned corporate rort.”
The former All Black captain, who has played 51 tests for the All Blacks and 127 games for the Highlanders, is also a patron of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust and written for Landfall, New Zealand’s oldest literary journal.
“If anything, consumers are going to be left with a less reliable energy supply, more infrastructure and higher power prices, while a prime slab of their much-loved landscape is sacrificed to the gods of Comalco and Holcim, major Meridian clients.
“That’s who this mad scheme is really for, and what makes it even more ridiculous is that the government is dangling carbon credits as an incentive to its own state-owned enterprise.”
9 June 2007
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