Opponents of Meridian’s large-scale Central Otago wind farm are outraged after learning that the state-owned enterprise has not disclosed plans to almost double the number of windmills.
Meridian is applying for resource consent to put 176 160m-tall turbines on the remote Lammermoor mountain range in Central Otago. The $2 billion operation, known as Project Hayes, will be the second-biggest in the world if it proceeds.
But it was revealed this week that Meridian is considering building another 113 turbines next to the site and within Dunedin City Council territory.
Maniototo Environmental Society spokesman Ian Manson, a farmer who would have 155 of the proposed 176 turbines visible from his home, said he was shocked to hear of the additional turbines but not surprised. “That’s the way they operate, unfortunately … They’ve never been honest about anything at any stage. There’s always been a hidden agenda.”
Meridian spokesman Alan Seay yesterday confirmed the company was making investigations at the site but denied it had not been honest. “We’re looking at sites up and down the country. There’s no secret in that, but for reasons of commercial sensitivity we’re not going to give details of where they are.”
The information was brought to light by Central Otago District Council-contracted planner David Whitney, who found it in a document attached to a public submission from Contact Energy.
After five weeks of evidence on Thursday, Whitney recommended that Project Hayes be refused because of landscape, visual and heritage impacts.
The commissioners will hear Meridian’s closing submissions next week.
16 June 2007
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