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More court ahead for wind farm

The legal proceedings on Meridian Energy’s planned $2 billion Project Hayes wind farm may be far from over.

A High Court decision this week directed the Environment Court to reconsider its decision on the Lammermoor Range project.

In November, the Environment Court decided the landscape values of the site outweighed the potential economic benefit and cancelled the resource consents for the operation that had been granted by the Central Otago District Council and Otago Regional Council in 2007.

Meridian’s appeal against the Environment Court decision was allowed and Justices John Fogarty and Lester Chisholm said the Environment Court had erred when calling for alternative locations for a wind farm to be considered as well as a comprehensive cost benefit analysis of those alternative sites.

They referred the matter back to the same division of the Environment Court to be reconsidered and gave specific instructions on what should be taken into account.

Environment Court case manager Chris Jordan confirmed yesterday the court’s next decision, after it had reconsidered the matter, could also be appealed to the High Court, on points of law.

Justices Chisholm and Fogarty said Meridian needed to present further evidence, including a “reasonably detailed description” of alternative wind-farm locations in the Central Otago district.

The court would have to consider if the same or a similar wind farm could be placed on any alternative site, whether it would generate fewer adverse effects on the environment than Project Hayes.

Meridian did not have to demonstrate the Lammermoor Range site was “the best”, but the consideration of other sites should be part of the court’s evaluation of the merits of Project Hayes, they said.