A proposed windfarm will devastate an ecosystem unique to New Zealand, a conservation authority warns.
Community-owned electricity generator Mainpower wants to build up to 83 wind generators over 6km at Mount Cass in North Canterbury, which the Canterbury-Aoraki Conservation Board views as environmental destruction.
“We’re stunned that Mainpower is even considering this site as they claim to be environmentally responsible and there are alternatives nearby,” said Dr Murray Parsons, chairman of the board, which represents the community interest in the work of the Department of Conservation.
“The Mount Cass ridge where Mainpower wants to build … is covered in dense bush extending down gullies on either side, and is a unique limestone landscape with its own special ecosystem.”
Mainpower commercial manager Todd Mead said everyone was entitled to their opinion on the project, but it disagreed with many of Dr Parsons’ conclusions.
“There is a process for discussing all of these points, and having the relevant experts on board, and it’s called the Resource Management Act, and we are committed to that.”
Mainpower was proposing to bulldoze a 10m wide access road, up to and along the mountain ridge, and to construct concrete footprints of up to 240sq m to support the construction of wind generators up to 80m in height.
“This will devastate ecosystems, plants, birdlife and insects, right along this ridge, removing huge areas of bush,” Dr Parsons said.
“Do we want to wreck this type of rare limestone landscape with its unique biodiversity just to generate more power and profits for Mainpower?” he asked. Dr Parsons said the proposed site of the windfarm could become a regional park or reserve.
Mr Mead said the Mount Cass site had proven to be the best of nine sites Mainpower had been monitoring.
By Jarrod Booker
22 February 2008
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