Save Central says it will not appeal a High Court decision on Project Hayes but expects to keep fighting against the wind farm through the Environment Court.
The High Court decision that upheld Meridian’s appeal effectively returns the battle to the Environment Court.
Meridian Energy wants to build a 176-turbine wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago.
Save Central co-ordinator Graye Shattky said it was expected to cost $100,000 in legal fees to lodge submissions to the Environment Court.
Meridian was appealing an Environment Court decision, which declined resource consents granted by the Central Otago District and Otago Regional Council in 2007 to build the wind farm.
The Environment Court had found the proposed wind farm would have adverse effects on the landscape that were greater than the benefits of the project.
Save Central had spent more than $500,000 in legal representation and preparation of submissions in the two court cases held.
The group was now planning to prepare submissions to assure the Environment Court it made the right decision not to allow the consents.
“Nothing in the High Court decision alters the importance of the Lammermoor Range landscape status as an `outstanding natural landscape’ and the need to protect it from the Meridian wind farm project,” Mr Shattky said.
There were two potential outcomes from the Environment Court decision. The court could reverse the decision in light of guidance from the High Court or it would decide the “outstanding natural landscape” would trump the commercial benefits of the project, a decision it was hoping for, he said.
Mr Shattky said he had received phone calls and emails of support for the group after news of the High Court’s decision hit news headlines yesterday and was confident it would receive the money needed to lodge the submissions.
Meridian Energy spokeswoman Claire Shaw said the successful appeal against the Environment Court decision was an “extremely positive outcome” for the future of wind farms.
During the next 20 days, while the High Court decision could be appealed, Meridian planned to assess all the details in the decision and work towards carefully making a “sound next step” for Project Hayes, Ms Shaw said.
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