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Court overstepped turbine mark, says Unison

The Environment Court overstepped its mark by ruling against an application to build 37 wind turbines in Hawke’s Bay, says Unison Networks.

The lines company told the High Court at Napier yesterday that the Environment Court was not entitled to overrule a public plan.

Unison lawyer Paul Majurey said the area where the company wanted to build the turbines – Te Waka Range, near the Titiokura Summit on the Napier-Taupo Road – was not within an outstanding natural feature area in Hastings District Council Plan, yet the Environment Court had determined it should have been.

Jolene Patuawa, on behalf of Maungaharuru-Tangitu Society Incorporated and Ngati Hineuru Iwi Incorporated, and Michael McClelland, on behalf of the Outstanding Landscape Preservation Society, responded to the appeal.

Both argued there was provision for a consent authority to “have regard to” any matter it “considers reasonable and necessary to determine the application”, including “the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes from inappropriate subdivision, use, and development”.

Ms Patuawa said a major reason for the Environment Court’s decision had been the potential “adverse effects on the relationship of Maori with this land and the values it has for them” – a point she said the appellant “completely ignores”.

Mr McClelland said the council itself had at the Environment Court hearing accepted that Te Waka Range was an outstanding natural landscape, yet had been aware it was not noted as such in the District Plan.

Mr Majurey said Unison was not disputing the finding the proposal could have adverse effects on the relationship with Maori, but if the High Court found the Environment Court had crossed its constitutional boundaries, that could be ruled reason enough for the application to be revisited. Justice Judith Potter reserved her decision.

By Mary Sharpe

The Dominion Post


4 September 2007