March 15, 2011
New Zealand

Hurunui consent process on hold

Cullen Smith, Star Canterbury, 15 March 2011

Meridian Energy’s controversial resource consent application for a wind farm in North Canterbury is “on hold” because of the extra work created by the February 22

The State-owned power generating company’s Project Hurunui application for a wind farm of up to 33 turbines between Omihi and Greta Valley was filed with the Hurunui District Council last month but has yet to be notified publicly.

Council environmental services manager Judith Batchelor said yesterday that the application had been put on hold because the February earthquake had affected Environment Canterbury’s ability to process it within the timeframes laid down by the Resource Management Act.

Ms Batchelor said the council wanted to reassure submitters they would have an opportunity to have a say on the proposal.

“We have had no choice but to postpone the matter,” she said.

“But we appreciate the delay may not have filtered through to potential submitters.

“The process has not yet begun.

“When it does, we will be formally notifying the application to ensure our community is able to fully participate”

It was not known when the application may be able to proceed.

The wind farm proposal has divided the local community, with some farmers supporting Meridian and others organising woolshed protest meetings to rally opposition.

Greta Valley businessman John Carr, who opposes the wind farm, said the resource consent hearing delay gave him “no joy”.

He would still be lodging a personal submission against the proposal.

Mr Carr said he wasn’t against wind farms, but believed more appropriate sites were available at St James and Molesworth stations – both also owned by the Government.

“It’s disappointing Meridian rejected the community’s wish to have a survey of opinion to gauge the views of local residents.”

Mr Carr said Meridian’s chief executive, Tim Lusk, “stated categorically” in September the company would withdraw its application if the community was against the proposal.

A Meridian spokeswoman was unavailable for comment.

But the company has said the wind farm would provide enough electricity to supply up to 31,000 average households and benefit the local economy through wages, infrastructure, and the use of local suppliers and accommodation.

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