Wind power in New Zealand: Meridian Energy has withdrawn plans to build a $2 billion wind farm

Meridian Energy has withdrawn plans to build a $2 billion wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in Central Otago. The state-owned energy company had fought for six years to build the 176 wiind turbines project Hayes wind farm.

The company initially won resource consent, but lost it following an appeal to the Environment Court. Meridian chief executive Mark Binns told on Thursday a High Court reprieve in 2011 put the company in the position of having to revisit the Environment Court to hear the case all over again.

"That, coupled with the fact that we’d have to spend a significant amount more money and the fact that we already have some other alternatives that are more compelling, means it’s the best decision for everybody that we shelve the wind power project."

Mr Binns officially started work as chief executive this week, but says the decision to can Project Hayes was taken in December last year. Meridian Energy has spent $8.9 million on the project.

Otago artist and Project Hayes opponent Grahame Sydney says it was never appropriate to build a wind farm on such an outstanding piece of land.

Mr Sydney told Checkpoint he is thrilled with the decision. "We think it’s a very rational decision – and it’s the right decision. We’re delighted for the long-term protection of outstanding natural landscapes which of course Central Otago has in abundance."