The Central Otago District Council has strengthened its opposition to the proposed Project Hayes wind farm on the Lammermoor Range, releasing its final report yesterday asking for the application to be refused.
CODC planning consultant David Whitney said his initial March 2007 report recommending that consent for the wind farm be declined had been finely balanced. However, after considering submissions and evidence presented during the five-week hearing, he was “˜”˜more strongly of the view that consent should be refused.”
This was because of the adverse landscape, visual and heritage effects the proposal would have. Those adverse effects would outweigh any positive effects from generating renewable energy, and the proposal was against the objectives and policies of the Otago Regional Council statement, the amended proposed CODC plan, the Dunedin City Council plan, and the Resource Management Act.
The CODC spent one and a half days presenting its final reports, which included evidence from landscape architect Ben Espie and traffic engineer Paul Jacobson.
Mr Whitney said the council’s reports considered the 92sq km site on the Lammermoor Range, 15km west of Middlemarch, to be an outstanding natural landscape, despite not being listed as such in the Central Otago district plan.
The wind farm would have significant adverse effects on those travelling on the Old Dunstan Rd and visiting the nearby Te Papanui Conservation Park and the Rock and Pillar Conservation Area.
The turbines would be visible from a vast area of Otago, and have a significant adverse effect on those in the Paerau Valley, particularly those who live on farms adjacent to the Linnburn Runs Rd. One farmer there would see 136 turbines.
Mr Whitney said he was also concerned about new transmission lines that would probably be needed, as well as the effects on ecology, sediment control, and noise and traffic issues.
He was also concerned the route over the Lammermoor Range was used by rescue helicopters travelling between Dunedin and Central Otago, and said no evidence had been presented to address that.
If consent was approved, Mr Whitney has asked that the number of turbines in the wind farm be reduced from 176 to 156, removing turbines from within 500m of the Old Dunstan Rd, within 500m of the Rock and Pillar Conservation Area, and within 7km of the Te Papanui Conservation Park.
Other conditions relate to traffic management, archaeological sites that may be found, monitoring ecological effects and revegetation.
Although expected to finish yesterday or today, the hearing has now adjourned for one more week to allow Meridian time to prepare its right of reply, which will be presented on June 22.
-The CODC is asking for more than three times the development levy originally offered by Meridian for the project. Mr Whitney said yesterday Meridian’s 0.15% offer, estimated at $1.2 million to $1.425 million, was not enough and should be 0.5%, or about $4 million.
By Pam Jones
15 June 2007
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