Media Release ~ Hayes Ruling

Clutha Groups - Hayes Ruling ‘Common Sense’
Clutha River Forum, Wednesday 11 November 2009

Groups opposed to further large dams on the Clutha River have praised the Environment Court’s decision declining Meridian’s consents for a $2 billion wind farm on the Lammermoor Range.

Members of the Clutha River Forum, an alliance of community and conservation groups, believe that the ruling, released last Friday, represents “common sense.”

The Chairperson of the Beaumont Residents Group, Neville Hills, saw it as “Finally some common sense for New Zealand.”

“The court’s decision points in the right direction,” says Dr. Richard Kohler, Chairperson of the Central Otago Environmental Society. “This decision is a milestone towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future.”

“Common sense should have prevailed from the outset,” said Leigh Morris, Spokesperson for the Lower Clutha River Guardians. “It was obvious that the effects of such a wind farm were never going to be minor.”
In October, the Clutha River Forum launched an ‘Option 5 - No More Dams’ campaign, a reference to Contact Energy’s four dam options for the Clutha River, at Luggate, Queensberry, Beaumont and Tuapeka Mouth.

“The Lower Clutha River Guardians can fully appreciate the high level of stress that Project Hayes has caused to those involved,” said Leigh Morris, yesterday. “We hope that the people of Beaumont can also look forward to a day when they, too, can celebrate the feeling of freedom from a large company seeking to make a profit at the expense of their environment.”

Forum members were critical of past decision-making, recalling the Clyde dam episode. They said that power companies have long regarded the South Island as an endless resource to be exploited, despite the infrastructural costs of sending the power north, and the destruction of prized Southern environments.

Contact Energy is the next in line, with their decision on a preferred option expected within months.

“‘Think Big’ is dying here,” says Lewis Verduyn, Chairperson of the Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway Group. “It has raised its head too often. We have learned that the price is too high. There is a strong economic argument for us to protect our most valued landscapes, and there’s a poor argument to destroy them in order to satisfy the energy demands of the north.”

“Renewable energy production should be located closer to the end user,” says Tim Ryan, Chairperson of the Upper Clutha River Guardians. “The Otago region already has its fair share of power stations.”

The Environment Court drew attention to Meridian’s lack of information on alternatives.

The Clutha River Forum believes that New Zealand is not short of “sensible energy options,” including “offshore wind farms that are closer to the demand than Central Otago, and the immense potential of Cook Strait tidal power now being developed by Neptune Power.”

“The Hayes decision,” says Lewis Verduyn, “has not only lifted the consenting bar, it has lifted the spirits of those who cherish this landscape.”

“Now that the clouds of uncertainty have been blown away, the Lammermoor Range will look even better,” said Leigh Morris. “We are thankful for the hard work and effort put in by those who fought against its desecration.”

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Mighty Clutha

Clutha River Guardian

Save The Clutha