A Central Otago society is challenging government plans in what it calls a David-and-Goliath battle to stop a windfarm being built on the Lammermoor Range.
The Upland Landscape Protection Society yesterday was the first group to officially lodge an appeal against Meridian Energy’s Project Hayes with the Environment Court.
Meridian was given resource consent to build its 176-turbine windfarm this month.
Project Hayes, a $1.5 billion development, is proposed to be built south of Ranfurly on the Lammermoor Range, about 70km north-west of Dunedin, and be capable of generating 630MW of power.
Yesterday, society chairman Richard Reeve said the group’s appeal was on the basis it felt the wind farm was a grossly inadequate industrial development proposed for an outstanding natural landscape.
“It’s like a David-and-Goliath battle.
And we do feel like we’re taking on the Government,” Dr Reeve said.
That was because the Government had made it clear it wanted more energy from renewable sources in the future, he said.
Prime Minister Helen Clark was pushing wind farms to meet potential obligations to the Kyoto Protocol and, instead of having small wind farms developed, the Government was supportive of massive wind farm developments, he said.
Otago and Southland were once again being put on the slab to produce power for the rest of the country, Dr Reeve said.
The society will apply to the Environment Ministry for a$30,000 legal fee fund to help finance the appeal. “I’ve heard so many different costs for fighting the appeal.
Some people have said $70,000 and others have said up to $2 million. A lot of people who have expertise have said they would do pro bono work for the society.” Queenstown-based environment lawyer Jay Cassells, who did not support the wind farm, was also in support of the society’s appeal.
“I’m quite confident that it’s appropriate the appeal should have been lodged.” Poet Brian Turner, who was also outspoken against Project Hayes, said he not think there was a need for a massive wind farm.
People were just buying the propoganda, he said.
“‘We’re going to have hundreds of square kilometres of windfarms.” Meridian Energy spokesman Alan Seay said news of the appeal was not surprising.
Meridian had expected an appeal to be lodged and that had been factored into the Project Hayes timeline, he said.
The appeal period closes tomorrow and Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson will then decide whether an appeal has merit and set a hearing date.
By Natasha Holland and Sarah Bedford
21 October 2007
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