The controversial Project Hayes wind farm in Otago could be almost twice as big as originally planned, according to a council planner.
On the second-to-last day of a council hearing into plans for the wind farm on the Lammermoor Range near Dunedin, an attachment to a Contact Energy submission already presented revealed that land had been earmarked for 113 turbines, in addition to the 176 proposed by Meridian Energy.
The submission was not publicly read when it was first presented and was included yesterday in the closing report from Central Otago District Council planning consultant David Whitney.
The information was theoretically already in the public domain, but it was an attachment and “buried in the papers”, Mr Whitney said.
He realised making it part of his report would make it more public.
Meridian Energy downplayed the revelation but admitted additional turbines could not be ruled out.
The submission showed the 176 turbines could be only stage one of the project, with stage two initiating “plan changes within the Dunedin City Council boundary”, and stage three the consent of another 113 turbines within the council boundary.
No specific site had been identified for the extra turbines, but Mr Whitney said it seemed land to the south and west of the Project Hayes site on the Lammermoor Range had been “earmarked for additional wind turbines in the future”.
The possibility of extra wind turbines was being investigated but was just one of many options being considered nationwide, Meridian spokesman Alan Seay told the Otago Daily Times.
“We wouldn’t rule it in or out at this stage.”
He said information about the extra 113 wind turbines was part of a confidential briefing made by Meridian to Contact Energy last year, to give Contact the “widest possible context of what could happen” with Meridian’s wind farm development.
The hearing was yesterday adjourned until next Friday. Mr Seay said counsel for Meridian, Andrew Beatson, would respond to the issue in his closing submissions then.
14 June 2007
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