Details of any planned compensation for landowners whose property values may fall because of a proposal to establish a wind farm near Gore will remain secret after a ruling from the panel hearing the application.
TrustPower, which wants to build a large wind farm at Kaiwera Downs, southwest of Gore, had sent affected landowners a letter last December which responded to concerns about the negative impact the development would have on their property values.
That letter outlined a ‘‘framework’’ to provide compensation for any loss in value of land in the area.
But the power company asked the Gore District Council hearings panel to keep the letter’s details secret.
TrustPower’s counsel argued the panel should place an order prohibiting its publication and any other communications of its details.
Panel chairman David Pullar issued a temporary order to that effect and invited any submitter and TrustPower to debate whether that order should stay in place at the end of the hearing, which officially finished last Friday.
In its decision issued late last week, the panel said it was satisfied an order was necessary to ‘‘avoid unreasonable prejudice’’ to Trust-Power’s commercial position.
‘‘In the circumstances, the importance of avoiding prejudice outweighs the public interest in making that information available,’’ Mr Pullar said.
The panel also considered the letter was part of a confidential negotiation process and that confidentiality should be respected.
Its ruling means the contents of the letter cannot be published in any form.
Anyone breaching that decision would be committing an offence under the Resource Management Act and could be fined up to $10,000.
The panel’s decision can be appealed to the Environment Court.
By Glenn Conway
22 April 2008
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