17 Aug 2010

More legal battles loom over Central Otago windfarm

7:32 am on 17 August 2010

Further legal battles are looming over a huge wind farm planned for Central Otago, despite a court ruling that appears favourable to state-owned power company Meridian Energy.

Meridian wants to put up to 176 wind turbines in the Lammermoor Range, totalling 630 megawatts and covering up to 135 square kilometres of mountainside.

The company first won resource consent, then lost it on appeal to the Environment Court in 2009, which ruled it would have too great a negative effect on the landscape.

The High Court has sent the case back to the Environment Court, saying it erred in law when it required Meridian Energy to do a comparative analysis of other possible windfarm sites.

The High Court says Meridian should present evidence on alternative locations, but does not need to go beyond a description, nor does it need to prove the site is the best location.

Meridian says it is pleased - but its opponents say it should not celebrate too soon.

They say the High Court did not give Meridian Energy nearly as much as it would have liked, and predict that in reconsidering the case, the Environment Court will reach the same position the second time around.