Mahinerangi wind farm passes court hurdle

The Environment Court has confirmed the resource consent conditions for a proposed Mahinerangi Windfarm in Otago, despite high profile opposition from former All Black Anton Oliver and poet Brian Turner, says power company TrustPower.

Opponents now have a chance to make submissions on a revised layout for the farm's turbines.

The 200MW farm, which would be the largest in New Zealand, would overlook Lake Mahinerangi from the foothills of the Lammerlaw range, 40km west of Dunedin.

TrustPower had been granted resource consents for the farm with a maximum of 100 turbines each with a maximum height of 145 metres spread over 1723ha.

The consents were appealed to the Environment Court by Contact Energy and The Uplands Landscape Protection Society.

Both appeals were dismissed, but the court ordered TrustPower to further refine its wind farm layout by specifying detailed turbine locations, and allowed Uplands to make submissions on the revised layout.

Copies of the court's decision have been sent to the parties involved and are not yet available to the news media.

TrustPower community relations manager Graeme Purches said the company would now assess the economic viability of the project, with a view to being in a position to proceed when economic conditions gelled.

"There are a number of issues to be resolved before construction can proceed. The current exchange rate makes it difficult to purchase turbines unless that changes or the turbine price falls dramatically, and in addition to that there are still issues around charges for the HVDC link, which projects like this currently have to pay even though the energy generated will be used locally."

In its decision, the Environment Court signalled costs would be the subject of a separate decision. TrustPower, the Clutha District Council and Otago Regional Council have filed applications for costs totalling more than $30,000 against the Uplands Landscape Protection Society.

All Black Oliver, Turner, artists Grahame Sydney and Marilynn Webb are among opponents of both TrustPower's scheme and Meridian's Project Hayes.