Groups opposed to plans for the country’s biggest wind farm say they will take their case to the Environment Court. The 176-turbine project near Ranfurly in Central Otago was granted resource consent on Wednesday.
After considering public views on the project, a panel of commissioners granted Meridian Energy permission to build on the Lammermoor Range. Meridian says the Hayes wind farm will generate up to 630 megawatts – enough electricity to power all homes in Otago, plus Dunedin and Christchurch.
While four of the commissioners accepted the argument that Lammermoor Range is not an outstanding natural landscape, one, John Mathews, disagreed. Opposition groups say that gives them strong grounds to take the case to the Environment Court.
Local artist Graeme Sydney also opposes the project, saying the Lammermoors must be preserved at any cost.
Meridian Energy’s chief executive, Dr Keith Turner, says while the merits of the landscape will always divide people, the panel did a thorough job and he is confident the case will not end up in the Environment Court.
He 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.
Project Hayes is located 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.
31 October 2007
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