A Naseby pub owner is funding an appeal against Project Hayes using international climate change experts who challenge the common view that man-made CO2 gases cause global warming.
Auckland-based Roch Sutherland, who owns the Ancient Briton Hotel, told The Southland Times outside the Environment Court in Cromwell yesterday the Government-supported wind farm proposed for the Lammermoor Range would have devastating effects on electricity prices by penalising thermal generators.
The Government is considering a 10-year moratorium on new fossil fuel power stations and a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, which Mr Sutherland believes will cause a substantial increase in the cost of power to consumers.
Represented by Auckland QC Matthew Casey, Mr Sutherland is calling on three scientists from across Australasia who all question how bad climate change really is, and what causes it.
Meridian Energy claims Project Hayes will avoid the emission of about 1,280,000 tonnes of CO2 annually that would otherwise occur if a non-renewable energy source was relied upon.
Professor Robert Carter, of James Cook University in Queensland, said people had been worried about global warming but during the past 20 years climate change had been a great thing: “We wouldn’t have been growing grapes for example” , he said.
The world was actually in the midst of a cooling period and he was not sure if it would continue to keep warming or not.
“Global temperature records showed that no significant warming has occurred since 1998 and cooling has occurred in the ocean and atmosphere since 2002.
“Over this same time period, human emissions of CO2 have continued to rise. Human causation for measurable, let alone dangerous, temperature increase is therefore unlikely and at this time remains entirely speculative,” he said.
Dr Carter questioned what amount of global warming would be prevented, in degrees, by the construction of a wind farm.
“Account must be taken of the emissions that will be generated by the construction and operation of the necessary 500MW backup power station,” he said.
Cross-examined by lawyer Graeme Todd, for the Central Otago District Council, about what he believed would be better for the environment – a carbon-fuelled power plant or a renewable energy source such as a wind farm – he said it was hard to say.
“It can’t be quantified by science.
I don’t think anyone can quantify it, accurately,” he said.
Mr Rochford was also calling on other expert witnesses including climate change scientists Dr Chris de Freitas from Auckland University, Dr Kesten Green from Monash University in Melbourne, and a power consultant and engineer, Bryan Leyland from Auckland.
He would not reveal how much his personal appeal is costing, as he was still looking for additional funding, but said it was expensive.
Meridian Energy has agreed to spend up to $180,000 protecting historic sites along the Old Dunstan Rd, this led to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust pulling out of the Environment Court appeal.
Meridian lawyer, Andrew Beatson, detailed the agreement at the reconvened hearing yesterday.
By Aimee Wilson
29 July 2008
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