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Wind farm evidence inadequate, judge finds  

One of TrustPower’s main witnesses came under criticism from Judge Jeff Smith at the Mahinerangi wind farm Environment Court hearing yesterday.

Judge Smith said he was disappointed that landscape architect Frank Boffa had failed to address a number of critical factors, some of which are subject to the appeal, in his brief of evidence presented to the court.

Judge Smith said Mr Boffa could have the option to produce further evidence, which would have to be read by the court, possibly forcing the court to reconvene at a later date.

TrustPower counsel Les Taylor would decide at the end of this week whether he would ask Mr Boffa to give further evidence.

Mr Boffa spent all of yesterday discussing his evidence.

Upland Landscape Protection Society co-ordinator Ewan Carr questioned the process Mr Boffa had used when coming up with visual simulations for the Mahinerangi wind farm.

He said the lens used in the simulations significantly distorted and diminished the vertical impact of the turbine dimensions.

He said a 50mm lens should not be used.

Mr Boffa said the software used for the simulations was recognised in Europe and it showed location and height.

The impact of the photos came from how large they were, rather than the type of lens used, he said.

Digital photography was changing all the time and this was having an impact on simulations, he said.

Mr Boffa rejected a suggestion by Mr Carr that a picture of a Boeing 747 aeroplane should have been superimposed on the images to show how big the turbines were.

Mr Carr said the turbines could be seen from at least 60km away.

However, Mr Boffa said he doubted that and that they were far enough away to be inconspicuous. He said roading, substations and other lines were not shown on the images as the turbines were the primary focus of the simulation.

He said road works would be rehabilitated and the roads were far enough away from public view to be inconspicuous.

There would be a difference between construction effects and long-term effects, he said.

Mr Carr pointed to work done on the Remarkables skifield road, which could easily be seen from the Wakatipu basin, and questioned if that was what roads on the wind farm would look like eventually.

Mr Boffa said the two could not be compared as about 75% of the road work on the wind farm would be done on ordinary pasture as opposed to tussock land.

Mr Boffa said he had been on a site visit with society representatives when drawing up the simulations and no-one from the society had expressed a wish to have the roads shown on the simulations.

The hearing will continue this week, starting again on April 28, when the focus will switch to transmission issues.

It is scheduled to finish on May 7.

By Steve Hepburn

Otago Daily Times

16 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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