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Both wind farms could be visible from some roads

There is a possibility motorists travelling through the Maniototo will be able to see both the Project Hayes and Mahinerangi wind farms together at various points.

Landscape architect Anne Steven told the Environment Court in Cromwell yesterday it was likely both wind farms would be seen on State Highway 87, south of Clarks Junction, and on the road to Lake Waipori. Ms Steven is a witness for the Maniototo Environmental Society.

Judge Jon Jackson told the court he and commissioners intended to visit both the Hayes wind farm site, followed by Mahinerangi on Friday before the access roads closed for winter.

Meridian Energy requested in its opening submission that the impending outcome of Mahinerangi not influence the decision for Project Hayes. Trustpower’s Environment Court hearing for the 200MW wind farm concluded in Dunedin two weeks ago.

Meridian counsel Andrew Beatson said in his evidence last week that if consent was granted for Mahinerangi during the hearing and deliberation process, that the Environment Court not consider the cumulative landscape or visual effects.

Judge Jackson said it was just one of those awkward situations, “that if an Environment Court decision came out then I’m not sure the same legal position applies”.

Mr Beatson confirmed after the hearing that if Mahinerangi was granted it was a factor that could be taken into account by the court.

Asked if that concerned him, he said it was just “unfortunate” timing that the Trustpower hearing was held before Hayes, even though Hayes was lodged first, completed first and notified first.

The hearings panel considering Hayes took longer to make a decision on the larger wind farm, and Mr Beatson said being second in line was simply a more technical hitch than anything.

By Aimee Wilson

The Southland Times

28 May 2008