Otago’s first major wind farm has been given the go-ahead, but opponents expecting that outcome have been busy preparing a comprehensive appeal against the move that could see the entire application revisited some time next year.
A joint hearing committee of the Clutha District Council and Otago Regional Council has granted a series of resource consents to TrustPower but attached 178 conditions.
The committee was chaired by Environment Court commissioner Roger Tasker, and included Canterbury scientist John Lumsden and Clutha District Mayor Juno Hayes.
The 131-page decision endorses TrustPower’s bid to erect no more than 100 145m-high turbines capable of generating 200MW of power enough to supply about 100,000 average-sized homes.
It found none of the wind farm’s potential environmental effects were sufficiently adverse, on their own, to prevent consent being granted, but conceded the application may have been declined if it was to be judged solely on landscape effects.
The Government’s push for environmentally-friendly renewable energy projects was taken into account.
The committee accepted the expert advice it heard that allayed fears about the effect the wind farm might have on the landscape, but admitted that would not make things any easier for opponents.
‘‘We acknowledge that, for many of these people, the effects of such a change to their visual environment will be considered an intrusion and, in many cases, unacceptable. While there will undoubtedly be unavoidable landscape effects that will be considered adverse by many people . . . they are not on their own of sufficient magnitude as to be fatal to this decision,’’ the committee said.
Throughout its decision, the committee said it was well aware of the consequences if it granted the application and the effect the wind farm would have on those people who would have to live and work within audible and visual distance.
‘‘The fact that the Mahinerangi area is relatively sparsely populated does nothing to lessen that impact. In some [ends]
By Glenn Conway
1 October 2007
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