Meridian's wind farm mock-ups 'laughable'

Eric Batchelor, pushed by his son Craig, leads a parade to the Eric Batchelor Pl subdivision...
Eric Batchelor, pushed by his son Craig, leads a parade to the Eric Batchelor Pl subdivision opening in Waimate on Saturday afternoon.Photo by Sally Rae.
Meridian Energy's computer images of its proposed Project Hayes wind farm development are laughable, an appeal hearing was told yesterday.

Appellant Eric Laurenson said the images, particularly those of the site after construction, did not show heavy scarring of the land which was likely to occur.

"In my experience of living in the [Paerau] valley and in that [Project Hayes] environment, once you start pushing heavy machinery around and start disturbing the ground, you leave great scars.

"The land and soil is very fragile and I don't think Meridian understands the sort of scarring Project Hayes will leave behind . . . Their images are just laughable, I'm afraid," Mr Laurenson said.

He and his wife, Cate, own and farm a 2116ha property known as Burnbrae, which has been in their family for 90 years, spanning three generations. Cross-examined by Meridian Energy counsel Humphrey Tapper, Mr Laurenson said he lived at Fairlie.

The Laurensons' counsel, Neville Marquet, of Dunedin, said the wind farm turbines would have a substantial effect on the visual and rural amenity values of the property.

"They will have no amenity or appropriate living and working over the 24-hour-day, seven days a week.

Mr Laurenson's principal concern is the adverse effects on the rural amenity, especially as a consequence of noise and the visual aspect," Mr Marquet said.

Mr Marquet's other clients, Ian and Sarah Manson, own and farm a Paerau Valley property known as Riverview, which is close to the proposed wind farm site.

Mr Manson (42) has lived at Riverview his entire life and the property has been in his family for more than 80 years. The closest turbine to Riverview will be about 6200m from the Manson home, and 2500m from their property boundary at the Taieri River.

"There is nowhere on Riverview where the massive wind turbines will not be the dominant feature. It is my submission the rural aspect presently had is totally annihilated [by Project Hayes]," Mr Marquet said.

Project Hayes is to comprise 176 turbines, the blade tip heights of which will be 160m and towers 100m, and the three rotor blades will have a diameter of 120m.

Mr Manson said it was almost impossible to grow vegetation on land which had been excavated or subject to construction work.

"There's very little soil on a lot of that [Project Hayes] land and it's virtually impossible to grow back on it. [Vegetation] just doesn't recover. I can see cuts on Old Dunstan Rd that are over 100 years old and they're still bare rock," Mr Manson said.

He said the noise and visual amenities of his property would be compromised by Project Hayes, and there were no effective mitigation measures Meridian Energy could put in place.

Cross-examined by Upland Landscape Protection Society counsel Ewan Carr, Mr Manson said the typical winter climate of the Paerau Valley was one of no wind and consequently heavy frost.

"The reason it's cold and frosty is because there's no wind. Last year, we had six weeks when the land was frozen solid and there was no wind at all," Mr Manson said.


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