Fresh action against Hayes

Opponents of the $2 billion Project Hayes wind farm have filed notice to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

In August the High Court upheld an appeal by Meridian Energy over its planned 176-turbine Project Hayes wind farm in Central Otago.

The 63-page decision by Justices Lester Chisholm and John Fogarty called for reconsideration by the Environment Court, which cancelled consents for the proposed farm on the remote Lammermoor Range last year.

An Environment Court hearing to decide the time frame and order of appearance for the rethink was set down for November 15 in Dunedin.

However, the notice of appeal, if granted, means the Environment Court hearing could be put on hold pending a decision by the Court of Appeal.

Lobby group Save Central filed leave to appeal by the Maniototo Environmental Society, Upland Landscape Protection Society, John and Sue Douglas, of Alexandra, and Ewan Carr on September 13.

If granted, the applicants can decide to take the case to appeal or continue with the Environment Court re-hearing.

Save Central coordinator Graye Shattky said the umbrella group filed the notices to protect its options for going either way.

Meridian objected to the Environment Court's original decision that a project such as Hayes should demonstrate how it was economically better than any other potential generation scheme and consider alternative sites.

High Court documents say the applications to appeal were based on points of law, including whe-ther the Environment Court erred when it called for analyses of alternative sites; whether alternative sites should be limited to Central Otago and whether it was wrong to call for explicit cost-benefit studies.

The notice also sought an extension of the appeal time slot and said questions of law were of public importance.Justices Chisholm and Fogarty's decision said the energy firm was not obliged to go beyond a "reasonably detailed" description of alternative sites in Central Otago.

They rejected the ruling that said Meridian must show how the Lammermoor site was best and stipulated nine points for the Environment Court rethink.

A Meridian Energy spokeswoman yesterday said the firm was unable to comment while the case was before the courts.

The Southland Times