A wind farm near Ranfurly with 176 turbines has been granted resource consent by the Central Otago District Council.
Meridian Energy says the Hayes wind farm will generate up to 630 megawatts – enough electricity to power all homes in Otago, plus Dunedin and Christchurch.
Project Hayes is located to the south of Ranfurly on the Lammermoor Range, about 70km northwest of Dunedin. It is named after engineer and inventor Eben Ernest Hayes, one of the first New Zealanders to recognise and harness the commercial application of wind power in Central Otago.
It is the fourth wind farm consent obtained by Meridian. Others are Te Apiti in the Manawatu, White Hill in Southland and Project West Wind in Wellington.
Meridian’s chief executive officer, Keith Turner, says the project has potential to address a security of supply problem facing the South Island, which was created when Transpower unexpectedly closed half of the Cook Strait transmission link recently.
He says the Cook Strait cable is being poorly managed. If it is to be upgraded, then he says South Island generators will bear the cost, which he believes is unacceptable.
Opponents set to challenge
Opponents of the wind farm say they are appalled it has been allowed to go ahead.
The hearing’s chairman, John Mathews, dissented from the final opinion. He says the landscape, on the Lammermoor Range, is naturally outstanding and disagrees with commissioners who found it commonplace when viewed in the larger Central Otago context.
Another opponent of the wind farm, the artist Graeme Sydney, says several opposition groups are prepared to take the matter further, and the decision is certain to go to the Environment Court. He says the chairman’s dissent is likely to be an important element.
31 October 2007