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Environment Court declines wind farm application

Environment Court declines wind farm application

In an Environment Court decision released yesterday, an application by Unison Networks to establish a 37 turbine wind farm in the vicinity of the Te Waka Range has been declined. Hastings District Council granted the application to Unison after a month of hearings in May 2006. The application was in addition to the 90 turbine wind farms already approved by the Environment Court in the vicinity of State Highway 5 and the Titiokura Saddle.

In its decision the Environment Court said it could not agree with the Council on the degree of adverse landscape effects in particular. “We disagree with the Council’s assessments of the degree of adverse effects. That is not a criticism of its decision making processes; the evidence put before us was significantly more fulsome and detailed on those issues,” the decision said.

Hastings District Council’s Chief Executive Murray Gilbertson said although the outcome went against the Council’s own decision regarding Unison’s proposed wind farm the process was a robust one. “We respect the Environment Court’s decision because it comes out of a very thorough and comprehensive process. On subjective matters like landscape values a different decision maker can place more or less weight on particular elements, and come up with a different conclusion” said Mr Gilbertson.

The Environment Court found that while the proposal would have positive effects in terms of climate change and had benefits in establishing a renewable energy source, this was outweighed by landscape effects and the affects on the value of the Te Waka range to local tangata whenua.

“Important as the issues of climate change and the use of renewable sources of energy unquestionably are, they cannot dominate all other values.

The adverse effects of the proposal on what is undoubtedly an outstanding landscape, and its adverse effects on the relationship of Maori with this land and the values it has for them, clearly bring us to the conclusion that the tipping point in favour of other values has been reached,” said the decision.

ENDS


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