Sydney goes nuclear over wind

[comment caption=Is nuclear power a viable option?] Artist Grahame Sydney says nuclear power in New Zealand is preferable to a huge wind farm on Central Otago's Lammermoor Range.

The Maniototo Environmental Society's fourth witness at the Environment Court hearing in Cromwell into Meridian Energy's Project Hayes wind-farm proposal, Sydney, of Cambrian Valley, said he was opposed to all the turbines on the 92sq km site.

"If given the option between 176 turbines on the sweeping Central Otago vistas and a single nuclear station, I would certainly prefer the latter," Sydney said during cross-examination.

In his written evidence, Sydney had said landscapes had a power and a meaning which was real, mysterious, and vital to many people's sense of identity.

"Landscapes, the natural theatres of our personal experiences and dramas, and the frames within which we preserve so many memories, perform a symbolic and emotional function far beyond their economic or geographical rationale or academic categorisation.

"They play a vital role - aesthetic, cultural and spiritual - in the lives of New Zealanders."

Sydney, a professional painter and printmaker, said Central Otago landscapes had a greater capacity to affect people's imaginations than most others in New Zealand.

He said Old Dunstan Rd was in the truest sense "a yellow brick road" as it had been used by early gold miners, and an extraordinary sense of its history lingered on. Meridian Energy counsel Humphrey Tapper said Project Hayes' specific site did not prominently feature in an art archive of Central Otago landscapes produced by 30 artists.

"To say that demonstrates any lesser significance is churlish," Sydney said.

Oturehua poet and writer Brian Turner said in evidence that Central Otago was an entity and its landscapes were emotionally and spiritually important to people.

"I feel liberated there, imbued with the possibilities otherwise denied me," Turner said.

When cross-examined by Mr Tapper, Turner agreed parts of the Lammermoor Range were no longer pristine.

"Those lands still strike most as wild, and often dramatic and wonderful.

"As a boy, my father instilled in me and my brothers a sense of great longing to go there [Lammermoor Range], and I hungered to explore the area," he said.

Turner's evidence concluded the Maniototo Environmental Society's argument relating to the landscape, visual, heritage and historical aspects of Project Hayes.

When contacted after yesterday's hearing, Mr Sydney clarified his remarks on nuclear power. "It was only in the context of being given an option between a small-scale single nuclear power station near Auckland, or being given Project Hayes."

"Nuclear power is very low on my list of options for New Zealand's energy," Mr Sydney said.

Auckland and surrounds would be a more appropriate for additional energy, being close to the fastest-growing energy demand.

Mr Sydney said nuclear energy, along with several otheroptions, was dependable and predictable, unlike wind generation.



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