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Windfarm appeal begins  

Meridian Energy requested that the pending outcome of the Mahinerangi windfarm consent process not influence the decision for Project Hayes, on the first day of the six-week Environment Court hearing in Cromwell yesterday.

TrustPower’s hearing for the 200MW Mahinerangi windfarm concluded in Dunedin last week and now another division of the court is considering the Project Hayes application.

Counsel for Meridian Andrew Beatson asked Judge Jon Jackson and commissioners Dr Alex Sutherland, Heather McConarchy and Ken Fletcher that they consider Project Hayes “as if the Mahinerangi proposal doesn’t exist”.

Several appellants are concerned about the cumulative effects of Project Hayes when combined with effects from other windfarms in the area.

Even though the TrustPower hearing has already finished, Meridian’s application was lodged first, completed first and notified first, Mr Beatson said.

“If, however, consent is granted to Mahinerangi during the process of the consent hearing and deliberation process, Meridian considers that proposal does not raise cumulative landscape or visual effects that need to be of concern to you,” he said.

Project Hayes attracted more than 1000 submissions and was granted resource consent at the end of October last year.

The proposal attracted the first whole-of-Government submission in support of the electricity project under the Resource Management Act, confirming its national significance.

The Environment Court is hearing from 11 appellants including Contact Energy, the Upland Landscape Protection Society, Maniototo Environmental Society and several individuals over the six-week hearing.

Mr Beatson told the court in his opening submission that the combination of elevation and quality of resource found at the site ranked in the top wind farm sites in the world.

Given the scale of the proposal, the overall volume of earthworks required was relatively small compared with other major wind farm and roading projects because of the generally flat site terrain, he said.

Five 220kV substations will be required to connect the 176 turbines to the transmission grid and then feed electricity into the Roxburgh-Three Mile Hill transmission line.

Wellington lawyer Morgan Slyfield, for appellants the Maniototo Environmental Society, spent the afternoon cross-examining Tony Coggan, a witness for Meridian, on the accuracy of its visual simulations of the wind farm site.

Dunedin lawyer Neville Marquet, representing several individuals who live in the vicinity of the proposed wind farm, also questioned Mr Coggan about photos of the landscape and positioning of wind turbines.

Mr Coggan said the point of the simulations was to determine what the turbines looked like before they were constructed on site.

The court takes a break today and resumes again tomorrow.

Aimee Wilson

The Southland Times

20 May 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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