Mt Cass Wind Farm
In 2007 MainPower New Zealand Limited (MainPower) lodged a resource consent application (RC070250) for land use consent to establish and operate a wind farm on the ridge of Mt Cass, Waipara. The application was declined by the Hurunui District Council and MainPower appealed the decision to the Environment Court (ENV-2009-CHC-100).
In January and February 2010, the parties to the MainPower appeal engaged in Environment Court mediation. As a result of these discussions, MainPower prepared a series of maps identifying alternative layouts, collectively referred to as the “Mediated Layout”. Aspects of the revised wind farm layouts were considered to be out of scope of the original application and as such a new resource consent application (RC100059) was lodged to cover those aspects.
At MainPower’s request the Council agreed to refer the supplementary application directly to the Environment Court (ENV-2010-CHC-200) for determination. The supplementary application, all submissions received by the Council on the application and a report prepared by the Council under section 87F of the Resource Management Act 1991 were filed with the Court on 20 August 2010.
The Environment Court has now granted the consent, subject to an extensive suite of conditions.
The Environment Court determination demonstrates that decisions on wind farms appear to often come down to weighing up the national level benefits with the adverse effects at the local level. The Court found that while there are adverse effects on the landscape, visual character and local amenity, when viewed in totality, the outcomes for the environment are positive; that is to say better outcomes for the local ecosystem in addition to the regional national and global positives of renewable energy generation. The wind farm enables the creation and funding of the Mt Cass Conservation Management Area for the restoration of a significant limestone ecosystem. The proposed extension of the Mt Cass walkway will also make this site more accessible for both recreation and education purposes.
MainPower have eight years to give effect to the consent. For further information please contact Helga Bennett on 03 3140092.