One of the most controversial energy projects in New Zealand is no more after the withdrawal today of Meridian Energy’s $2 billion Central Otago wind-farm proposal.
The 176-turbine, 633-megawatt Project Hayes bid sparked a battle by environmentalists when the plan was revealed in 2006.
A long court battle ensued, with environmentalists ultimately beating the company’s bid to build on the remote Lammermoor Range.
Meridian chief executive Mark Binns said the company portfolio had developed considerably and there were other projects with a higher commercial priority than Hayes.
“Meridian now has a number of potential development options that would be progressed ahead of Project Hayes,” he said.
“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.”
Binns, who replaced Tim Lusk as chief executive last year, said the decision to withdraw consent applications before the Environment Court was disappointing but it was right.
“Meridian has worked closely with landowners, the community and a range of stakeholders throughout the resource consent process,” he said.
“We value the relationships we have developed in Central Otago and acknowledge and thank everyone who has been involved in the project.”
In August 2010, the High Court upheld an appeal by Meridian against the Environment Court’s rejection of its planned wind farm in Central Otago.
The High Court directed 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.
Today’s decision spells the end of the saga.
– © Fairfax NZ News
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