TrustPower was yesterday accused of trying to bribe Kaiwera residents opposed to its multi million-dollar wind farm.
Residents did not hold back as they voiced their opposition to the project and criticism of the way the company has treated them.
Allan Woodrow, who farms next to the wind farm site, said the first he learned about the proposal was at a public meeting.
At the meeting a former senior TrustPower employee “told me, if I don’t like it, sell up and move on”, Mr Woodrow said.
Leanne Heaps, who would see 29 turbines and 10 blade tips from her home, said TrustPower had failed to offer any real compensation.
“(It had) only made some very insulting and miserable offers, always with the bribe that you would have to remove your objection.” If the wind farm was for the good of the nation then why was it at the bottom of the South Island and not where the majority of the nation lived, Mrs Heaps said.
“We will not be Aucklanders’ dumping ground for things they don’t want to see,” she said.
The hearing panel was presented with information relating to an offer put to some property owners by TrustPower.
Panel chairman David Pullar placed an interim suppression order on details of the offer, at the request of TrustPower legal counsel Christian Whata, on the grounds of commercial sensitivity.
Mr Whata said the offers had been made in good faith and in confidentiality.
Mother-in-law Noeline Heaps’ take on the offer was typical of her neighbours.
She believed it would have taken away their rights and was totally unacceptable.
Alistair Murray said he could not accept any offer that required him to withdraw his opposition.
“I felt that I had to voice my concerns at this hearing as TrustPower has listened to my concerns and haven’t resolved any of them.
“I do wonder why our silence was so important,” Mr Murray said.
The impartiality of the hearing panel was repeatedly questioned by submitters.
The panel was made up of three district councillors – Cliff Bolger, Bret Highsted and Nicky Davis – and chaired by Mr Pullar, a Kaiwera resident who is related to three of the submitters.
Issues raised yesterday related to a possible bias and predetermined outcome.
The Southland Times
9 April 2008
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