Central skylines not unique, hearing told

Central Otago's remarkably long, level, uncluttered skylines are not unique to the district, an Environment Court appeal hearing was told yesterday.

Meridian Energy's third witness, landscape architect and planner Stephen Brown, of Auckland, told Judge Jon Jackson areas of the Mackenzie Country and some volcanic plateaus in New Zealand had the same qualities.

"Those are the immediate examples which come to mind.

I agree such skylines and landscapes are a feature of Central Otago but they are not unique," Mr Brown said.

The Lammermoor Range, on which Project Hayes would be constructed, was of a lesser quality to adjoining landscapes, including the Rock and Pillar Range.

"Anybody who's driven into the Middlemarch basin becomes aware of a strong change from the Rock and Pillar Range to that of the Lammermoor.

The names of the ranges themselves describe that change . . .

Rock and Pillar is a completely different landscape to that of a moor-type range, he said.

The Rock and Pillar Range and Te Papanui Conservation Park, which border parts of the Lammermoor Range, are protected and described by local authorities as being outstanding natural landscapes, while the Lammermoor Range is not.

Cross-examined by Maniototo Environmental Society counsel Ian Gordon, of Wellington, Mr Brown agreed the continuous skyline of the Lammermoor Range and Rock and Pillar Range read as one when viewed from a certain area.

Mr Brown said he was disappointed with the "depleted" cover of tussock and other indigenous land cover over vast parts of Central Otago.

"There's a lot of debate about whether much of Central Otago is still covered in the natural land cover for the area," he said.

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