The case against Project Hayes

"All right, some say living standards have lifted. But by what measures?

We're an increasingly disease-ridden, consumption-besotted lot.

And how ethical are our large companies? It wasn't very long ago that a chief executive of Telecom as good as said it was normal business practice to dupe, or confuse, the citizenry. Wasn't she saying, in effect, 'Everyone does it'? Can we say Meridian is any different?

"Would government ministers have been so eager to instruct the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of Conservation to support Project Hayes if the government were not receiving substantial income from Meridian's activities?"

"Our economy should be required to serve the natural environment, not the other way round.

"Everything we do should be in accord with that rule. So far the opposite has usually proven to be the case.

"Clean and green, environmentally responsible and savvy New Zealand? Bollocks.

"For decades now New Zealanders have listened to soothing prattle about 'balanced growth and development', only to find that much of what occurs has lacked balance.

"Is it any wonder many of our so-called 'close-knit communities' have become divided communities? So far, balanced growth and development has mostly proven to be an illusion.

"It is true that the magnificent uplands that include the Rock and Pillar Range, and the Lammerlaw and Lammermoor ranges, are not in the same state that they were before the advent of humans.

"But, relative to most of the countryside, they retain more of what we recognise as uniquely part and parcel of what is distinctively southern New Zealand. By contrast, much of the landscape east of the area proposed for Project Hayes has been greatly altered.

"When I was a boy, most of the country from on top of the hill above Outram and all the way across to the western skyline to the Lammerlaw, Lammermoor and the southern end of the Rock and Pillars was a shining, rhythmic sea of springy tussock grasslands.

Now it's mainly green pasture. When will our urge to alter, modify, stop? Those ranges belong, deserve to be seen, as part of what we know and love as iconic Central Otago. For Meridian to say otherwise is sophistry.

"As sentient creatures we have duties for the term of our natural lives. A core duty is to take responsibility for more than just increasing the material well-being of today's generations.

"As the Native Americans asserted [and as I observed in an earlier section of this book] we don't inherit the Earth from our parents, we borrow it from our children.

"This doesn't mean that people are unimportant; it means that unless they treat our natural environment with due respect then they are unworthy of respect themselves, and will be held to account.

"We've long been too big for our boots.

Which is what Eugenio Montale, the Nobel prize-winning poet, meant when he wrote:

Twilight began when man thought
himself of greater dignity than moles or crickets.

"Or, to quote from another poet, Edward Thomas:

When gods were young
This wind was old.

"In other words it's about being, as a people, as a species, more humble."

Brian Turner's Into The Wider World: A Back Country Miscellany is published by Random House (Godwit), and out on Friday, August 15.


The case against Lake Hayes project

Perhaps I should have stated why I was not swayed.
I eagerly read this but was sad that I learnt nothing from it. I agree a lot of possibly moving arguments about preserving the outdoors but if it comes to preserving the look of a desolate mountain range and being either cold because of a powercut, or stranded for lack of petrol because we have not converted to electrical propulsion then my choice is to add the wind turbines and a few pylons to the range.

Wind power: a way to reduce wasting electrical power

For years I have been disturbed at the amount of power being wasted by the Electricity Department and now Transpower as they move[d] electric power around the country. Now with wind we have a viable option to reduce this costly waste becuase it can be placed close to the demand.
It is sad the NIMBYs or shall we say the NOMPARs, Not on my pet Range, who cannot see the beautiful and graceful elegance of the modern wind turbine enhancing our environment. I wonder if they were Dutch Windmills there would be the opposition. Placing wind turbines on the hills surrounding our major cities is the logical solution to the waste caused by long distance transmission, converting to Direct Current and back again across Cook Strait. It used to be a neccessary factor in our society but no longer.
Denmark is largely self-supporting for its energy needs and it doesn't have mountains and rivers, but a thriving wind generation industry to look after its needs and make money exporting the product.
While energy conservation makes sense I suggest that if we had an abundance of electric power we could change the structure of society so instead of poluting petroleum products we were powered by electricity.
One of the problems of our current set-up is that the electric power industry is driven by the proffit motive for shareholders with little incentive to improve the infra-structure. Ironically the shareholders include the Government whose controllers seem to have little thought beyond who is going to get into power later this year.

Wind power - yes please

I agree with a lot of Brian's sentiment around the corporations and their perceived location in the economic pecking order. I also agree with his desire to preserve our heritage and environment for those that come after us. (Having children, how can you not think this way?) What I do find increasingly infuriating is the blinkered nature of another vocal minority that continues to oppose change. We need to change our consumption patterns, we need to rethink how and when we travel, we need reduce our use of or use more renewable forms of energy. I cannot understand on balance the reluctance to support Wind power, a 'free' energy (reasonably efficient capital expenditure and marginal operational and maintenance expenditure). Other forms of generation such as wave / tidal and geothermal are also available to us. We should also invest in these forms, but this should be coupled with a movement to distributed generation, with local small scale generation projects supplying local demands. This will help to provide security of supply at least to domestic consumers. For the heavy industrial users, assist them with the production of their own generation facilities. Supply the demand at source, rather than look to mega generation plants pushing power inefficiently around the country (with the associated transmission losses, vulnerabilities inherent in the failing distribution network and the perceived economies of major investment). The decisions to construct these plants are taken for economic bottom line, profitability and financial return on investment. Social aspects are looked at as costs rather than benefits, environmental issues are looked at as costs and only now are we (the majority) paying the price from the corporate minority historically ignoring these costs against providing themselves short term profit under the guise of providing a service for the majority.
So good for Brian, but please come up with alternatives, support infrastructure investment, but consider all costs and benefits.
Maybe Electrical generators (state owned enterprises remember) will provide power for free to those who continue to be affected by their operations.. Free power for having to look at a wind farm?
I'd move tomorrow.

Wind power

Your extract of the Turner book doesn't sway me for one moment. What is needed for this country is a balanced supply of power from hydro, wind and sea.
The New York Times today [11.8.8] has an interesting article contrasting Denmark with America which in recent years has made itself independent of imported oil to a large degree thanks to wind power and changing people's habits. We cannot rely on wind to provide a constant supply, but neither does hydro, and oil is running out ... so the sensible solution is to have all three and hope that collectively they will meet our needs. Conservation comes from the increasing prices and replacing our housing stock with energy efficient dwellings.