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Bid to get wind-farm hearing adjourned fails  

The Upland Landscape Protection Society will not give up its fight against the Mahinerangi wind farm, despite losing its attempt to have an appeal hearing adjourned yesterday, and revealing it has insufficient funds to call any evidence.

At the first day of the Mahinerangi wind farm Environment Court hearing in Dunedin yesterday, Upland Landscape Protection Society co-ordinator Ewan Carr sought an adjournment from the court.

The society had filed an application in the Dunedin High Court last week, seeking a judicial review of the decision to allow the wind farm, maintaining the public was misled over the effects of the proposed wind farm on the environment. It also wanted an adjournment to secure more funds, so it could employ counsel.

Mr Carr was told yesterday the society had received $30,000 from the Environment Legal Assistance Fund, but he said, in a later interview outside court, the society needed $500,000 to mount a proper appeal.

Mr Carr told the court the society had become somewhat unglued over the past few months and he had not become involved until February.

He said TrustPower had failed to supply information on roading, infrastructure and transmission lines in its application. He accused TrustPower of removing opposition in the appeal by threatening costs against participants in the appeal process.

All other parties opposed the adjournment.

TrustPower counsel Les Taylor said the issues raised in the judicial review would be matters raised in the hearing. Those issues were alive when the appeal was lodged.

The 255 submissions the resource consent hearing received showed people were informed about the proposal.

To accuse TrustPower of threatening appellants was an extraordinary proposition to make.

Concerns have been solved by mediation in the way the Resource Management Act encouraged.

Mr Taylor said the society should have sought an adjournment earlier, when it knew it had problems with funding, and he described the application for a review as ‘‘scurrilous’’.

Judge Jeff Smith said yesterday the society had agreed last November to a hearing on April 14 and exchange of evidence.

Among his reasons for not granting the adjournment was considerable time had been given to set up this hearing, no pre-warning had been given to the court the adjournment was being sought, all other parties had complied with the court’s directions, and the society had agreed to comply with the court’s directions.

He said the importance of complying with the court could not be over-emphasised. He had earlier remarked an adjournment was no different than an Environment Court decision being changed in a higher court

Outside court, Mr Carr said he was disappointed with the decision for what he said was a nationally significant issue.

The society was up against large corporates with big cheque books.

He said the society would carry on, but it had faced a timetable for evidence which placed utmost haste upon them.

The most affected by the wind farm was a group of farmers in the Mahinerangi area, who had been slowly truncated and affected by TrustPower, Mr Carr said

By Steve Hepburn

Otago Daily Times

15 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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