Substation paint, screening revisited

Aurora Energy is offering an improved landscaping plan and less reflective paint for an electricity substation it wants to build near the Hawea Whitewater Park in Camphill Rd, Hawea Flat.

Hawea River kayakers and mountain bikers were among those who made submissions against the Dunedin City Council-owned energy company's proposal at a notice of requirement hearing on July 24.

For the two kayaking organisations, landscape architect Anne Steven submitted the substation was an ''industrial-type'' facility that would be visible from the river corridor and silhouetted against the sky.

''This would compromise the natural and open characteristics of the river margins.''

She considered the substation would detract from the ambience of the river corridor and would impact on the recreational enjoyment of the whitewater park.

''It is not possible to mitigate the substation in this location and to ensure that it is in harmony with the landscape.''

Low-level planting might ''soften the edges'' but would do nothing to limit the impact of ''the bulk, height and density of the structures and associated lighting''.

She called for Aurora to find an alternative site.

On Friday, Aurora responded to points raised at the hearing with a right-of-reply by counsel Bridget Irving.

Ms Irving pointed out the site for the substation was not within the ''outstanding natural feature'' of the river or the river landscape.

She submitted a court decision about wind turbines visible from within the National Park and Rangipo Desert was relevant.

The court in that case said: ''We do not consider that visibility of itself is an adverse effect.''

The court considered the sight of the turbines would not diminish ''the quality of the outstanding features and landscapes within the park or diminish the experience of visitors to them''.

Ms Irving submitted the same conclusion could be drawn about the substation.

''Whilst people may be able to see parts of the proposed development from the river and its margins, this is not an adverse effect in and of itself.''

In response to submissions presented at the hearing, Aurora had engaged a specialist in revegetation and revised its landscape conditions.

''Aurora is offering a comprehensive suite of performance standards to ensure that the desired level of screening is achieved within a reasonable time frame,'' Ms Irving said.

It had also ''reconsidered'' its position on a shelter belt and was offering to minimise the reflectivity of support structures for high voltage equipment, which were the main visual elements within the yard.

Ms Irving said the substation would have positive effects for the Hawea area and although the council could set conditions, it could not decline consent for the substation.

-mark.price@odt.co.nz