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NZ Historic Places Trust pullout riles

Central Otago members of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust are angry the national body has pulled out of appealing against the proposed Project Hayes wind farm.

The local branch wanted protection for Old Dunstan Rd, considered to be an historic place, which could be threatened if Meridian Energy’s proposal goes ahead.

Central Otago branch chairman Graye Shattky said the NZ Historic Places Trust had undertaken private negotiations with Meridian and had withdrawn from the Environment Court appeal process.

“While it is clear that some secret accommodation has been negotiated behind closed doors in Wellington, it is equally certain that the Central Otago branch was not consulted,” Mr Shattky said.

“No doubt because senior trust executives knew that the branch’s members would unanimously reject such a proposition.” NZ Historic Places Trust chief executive Bruce Chapman adressed about 30 people at a meeting in Alexandra last night.

He told the aggrieved historians the trust had about 100 years’ experience in dealing with appeal issues and was not in a position to consult the branches at every stage of the process.

The withdrawal did not mean the organisation supported the wind farm project.

Mr Chapman said the money spent fighting the case could be better used in other ways.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust volunteer Dr Mike Floate said the decision to withdraw “had knocked the bricks from our foundation”.

By Barbara Withington

The Southland Times

22 May 2008