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Wind farm opposition claims victory over Meridian

Meridian Energy has pulled the plug on Project Hayes, the controversial wind farm development in central Otago.

The billion-dollar plan was taken to court by protesters who now seem to have won a final victory.

Central Otago residents have fought for five and half years to keep the Lammermoor Range free of wind turbines. Today, their battle ended in victory.

The development was strongly opposed by a group called Save Central. It included prominent Otago figures like artist Grahame Sydney, poet Brian Turner and former All Black Anton Oliver.

Project Hayes would have been a $2 billion installation of 176 turbines, creating one of the biggest wind farms in the world.

It would have produced enough electricity to power a quarter of a million homes.

Meridian fought their opponents in the Environment Court and the High Court but the new chief executive Mark Binns, who took over in December, says the company’s portfolio has changed since the project began and it now has other projects that are higher commercial priorities.

Whatever Meridian’s reasons, the protesters are delighted with the company’s decision.

The big fight may be over but the neighbourly rifts that developed in the area between those for and against the scheme will take a long time to heal.