A further Environment Court hearing on the Project Hayes wind farm has been delayed, pending a decision on whether the matter will proceed to a higher court.
The next round of legal proceedings around Meridian Energy’s plans for a $2 billion Lammermoor range wind farm had been set down for a judicial conference in Dunedin on Monday, to discuss dates and details for an Environment Court hearing, as directed by the High Court.
However, Environment Court case manager Chris Jordan confirmed yesterday that conference had been adjourned.
Several of the parties in the case had sought an extension of time in which to appeal to the Court of Appeal, and leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal, so that matter would need to be sorted out first, he said.
If a Court of Appeal hearing was to proceed, it would take precedence over the Environment Court hearing.
Resource consents for the wind farm were granted by the Central Otago District Council and Otago Regional Council in 2007.
The decision was appealed to the Environment Court, which decided the adverse effects of the wind farm on the landscape outweighed its potential economic benefits, and it cancelled the consents.
Meridian and the two councils appealed that decision to the High Court earlier this year.
The court upheld the appeal and the case was sent back to the Environment Court for reconsideration, with directions about what further evidence should be presented.
Justices Lester Chisholm and John Fogarty said the Environment Court had “erred in law” when it called for an explicit and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of alternative sites for the wind farm.
They directed the Environment Court to hear further evidence on alternative locations in Central Otago, and assess whether those sites were an efficient use and development of the wind and the land.
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