A large-scale energy installation such as Project Hayes would not be the dominant feature of the landscape, an expert witness for Meridian Energy told the Environment Court hearing in Cromwell yesterday.
Peter Rough was cross-examined by the Maniototo Environmental Society’s lawyers on day two of the six-week hearing but disagreed that the 160m-high wind turbines were the main feature.
“It’s subjective analysis. To me if it was the dominant thing, it would be the prime view but the plains are very much a significant feature,” he said.
Meridian has already agreed to relocate some of the turbines to avoid areas of archaeological significance, including from the Taieri Rapids scenic reserve.
But Morrison Kent lawyer Ian Gordon questioned whether moving a turbine 150m was “futile” .
Mr Rough argued that it was better than leaving it where it was.
Dunedin lawyer Neville Marquet, representing two farming families, said there was no doubt the wind farm would create an energy production landscape.
“The dominant feature is not the land it’s on. You cannot separate the machine from the land,” he said.
But Mr Rough argued the rural character of the landscape would prevail.
“The wind farm will be a prominent feature, but it’s not taking over the landscape in its entirety,” he said.
“For example, if you put forestry all over the hills, you would say that it has been transformed into a forest,” he added.
Independent experts involved in the decision to grant consent for Project Hayes found that no turbine locations had such an adverse effect as to warrant their removal.
But in its “project shaping” , Meridian agreed to relocate some of the turbines after entering into negotiations with the Department of Conservation, local iwi and the Historic Places Trust before the hearing.
By Aimee Wilson
22 May 2008