Parts of an appeal hearing against Meridian Energy’s proposed Project Hayes wind farm on the Lammermoor Range are being filmed for possible inclusion in two documentaries.
Environment Court judge Jon Jackson yesterday granted in-court media coverage to applicant Jay Cassells, of Queenstown company Huntaway Homestead Films.
Mr Cassells is making a documentary with a working title Local Error, about Project Hayes and the course of Meridian Energy’s application, including the appeal hearing being held in Cromwell.
He started filming and taking photographs of Maniototo Environmental Society (MES) witnesses in the hearing yesterday afternoon.
MES is one of 10 active appellant parties which oppose the $1.5 billion, 176-turbine wind farm.
Witnesses for associated parties, including the Upland Landscape Protection Society and Central Otago Environmental Society, might also be filmed.
Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney and poet Brian Turner, who are due to give evidence this week, will be the predominant focus of Mr Cassells’ filming, which is also planned for inclusion in a documentary being made by Mr Sydney.
El Dorado: The Old Dunstan Track focuses on the Old Dunstan Rd through the Lammermoor Range, which will be modified if Project Hayes goes ahead.
Mr Cassells, Mr Turner, and Mr Sydney are members of umbrella group Save Central, which aims to preserve Central Otago landscapes and protect the district’s environment from adverse development.
Mr Cassells appeared in support of Mr Sydney and Mr Turner at last year’s Project Hayes resource consent hearing in Alexandra.
Project Hayes would turn an existing rural landscape into one of industrial energy production, the hearing was told.
The Maniototo Environmental Society’s second witness, Wanaka landscape architect Anne Steven, told the court the natural character of the Lammermoor Range would be changed by the proposed 176-turbine development and a diminished sense of rural character would remain.
“I consider the wind farm, in its totality, will have no other effect than to adversely impact the panoramic view of the proposed area. With the access roads and turbines rotating and glinting in the sunlight, there is no other way to describe it.”
Cross-examined by Meridian Energy counsel Andrew Beatson, Ms Steven said it would be unreasonable to expect the Central Otago landscape to be devoid of any further development.
I’m not denying that there’s a need for people to have energy, but I don’t see a particularly good reason to have it (the wind farm) on this site, she said.
By Rosie Manins
27 May 2008
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