OPINION: What difference will the departure of Solid Energy's chief executive make to the enduring Southland landscape?
Don Elder's vision of using low- quality, high-carbon-producing lignite, for an array of energy- intensive projects, promised a bright future for all.
A landscape of industrial diversity, and energy self-sufficiency, with development comfortably tucked alongside traditional agriculture. The promises of wealth creation and employment were legend.
The prospects so enticing, the Gore District Council enshrined them in its 10-year plan.
With ink hardly dry on the plan, those prospects now appear absurdly obsolete.
That great vision, swept away as casually as a puff of coal dust in an afternoon breeze.
But to its numerous critics the question remains: How realistic was an economy based around the burning of fossil fuels, to begin with?
Perhaps it will again arise from the ashes, as Mr Elder hopes, and fulfil the ambitions of a past era. But in all probability it won't, and those vast resources will remain locked beneath the rich and diverse soils it supports, sequestering forever the rich carbon beneath.
The Southland landscape not appearing much different in the future, than in its recent agricultural past.
And for that we can all be thankful.
DAVID L LANGER
- The Southland Times
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