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Wind farm developer plans to fight levy  

Trustpower does not want to pay the Gore District Council a development levy for its $380 million wind farm and is prepared to take its fight to the Environment Court.

The company has lodged an appeal against its own project, taking issue with resource consent conditions relating to the levy, the exclusion of wind-farm landowners from a community consultation group and shadow flicker rules.

If successful, TrustPower wants the council to cover the costs of its appeal.

Otago-based group the Upland Landscape Protection Society was the only other party to lodge an appeal.

TrustPower was last month given approval to develop an 83-turbine wind farm within a 2568ha area at Kaiwera Downs, east of Mataura.

Residents of the area who put up a strong argument during the consent hearing, have decided not to take their fight further.

Spokesman Henry McFadzien said yesterday it would be too costly in terms of money and time to pursue the matter.

“It’s pointless going any further to the Environment Court – we haven’t got those sort of funds,” he said.

TrustPower claims, in its appeal, the Gore district plan rules relating to financial contributions are unlawful.

Not withstanding that, the amount set has failed to take into account other financial contributions to be made by the company and the positive effects of the project, is unreasonable and is disproportionate to the adverse effects, it says.

The levy has been set at 0.2 percent of the project’s cost, which equated to about $760,000.

The Upland Landscape Protection Society opposes the development envelope concept and wants the application relodged.

Alternatively, if the Environment Court upheld the consent, the society has requested the number of turbines be “drastically” reduced.

The envelope approach has been rejected by an Environment Court judge for TrustPower’s Mahinerangi wind farm, the society says.

Gore planning consultant Keith Hovell said it could be six months before the appeals went before the Environment Court.

However, he hoped the parties would be able to sort out the issues without going to a hearing.

The council would be seeking legal advice on its district plan development levy rules, he said.

By Sonia Gerken

The Southland Times

2 July 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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