January 19, 2012
New Zealand

Anti-Hayes activist backed gut feeling

John Edens in Queenstown, www.stuff.co.nz The Southland Times, 20 January 2012

An Alexandra man whose family fought Project Hayes yesterday said his gut feeling told him the energy firm knew a court would not overturn the original decision.

In November 2009, Judge Jon Jackson overturned consents for the farm, saying the environmental cost would be too high.

If approved, the Lammermoor Range would have been home to the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

Environmentalist John Douglas, wife Sue and son Andrew, of Alexandra, spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting Meridian.

Mr Douglas yesterday said parties were previously directed to pay costs but this could be revisited

“Meridian knew they weren’t going to overturn the court decision,” he said.

Meridian Energy chief executive Mark Binns said the company portfolio had developed considerably and there were other projects with a higher commercial priority than Hayes.

“Withdrawing the consent applications is not only the most prudent commercial decision for Meridian, but also avoids prolonging uncertainty about this project for the community and the project’s supporters,” he said.

Mr Binns, who replaced outgoing chief executive Tim Lusk last year, said the decision was disappointing but it was right.

The firm reviewed Hayes against a portfolio of renewable development options and other projects had a higher commercial priority.

“Meridian now has a number of potential development options that would be progressed ahead of Project Hayes.”

In August 2010, the High Court partly upheld an appeal by Meridian against the Environment Court’s rejection of Hayes, directing the Environment Court to rethink its decision cancelling consents for the wind farm.

This prompted fresh legal action to the High Court and Court of Appeal before any reconsideration by the Environment Court.

But yesterday’s decision spells the end of the Hayes saga, although questions remain about costs and outstanding landscape classification in Central Otago.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/01/19/anti-hayes-activist-backed-gut-feeling/