Lizard AEE for the proposed Mt Cass wind farm

MainPower, a electricity lines company based in Canterbury, has proposed to construct a wind farm on Mt Cass, about six kilometres east of Waipara in North Canterbury.

However in 2009, the Hurunui District Council declined MainPower's original application for resource consent lodged with the council in 2007. MainPower appealed this decision to the Environment Court, by resubmitting the proposal after ecological expert input and Environment Court mediation. This included revising the road and turbine layout, and thus significantly reducing the amount of native vegetation and limestone pavement that needed to be cleared. We undertook intensive lizard surveys and prepared an Assessment of Ecological Effects on the lizard fauna of Mt Cass, and also provided Evidence in Environment Court on lizards, on behalf of Golder Associates Limited. We also prepared the draft Lizard Management Plan for the conditions of consent to refer to.

In December 2011, the Environment Court approved the resource consent. The resource consent for the Mount Cass wind farm allows for a choice of three alternative turbine layouts:

  • 67 turbines of 500kW capacity each, total capacity 33.5MW
  • 40 turbines 1MW capacity each, total capacity 40MW
  • 26 turbines 3MW capacity each, total capacity 78MW

Because of the extensive environmental management plans prepared by these independent ecological experts, including us, there will be a net gain in biodiversity once the project goes ahead—and especially for the lizard fauna. This is because as part of the project, MainPower will protect 127 hectares of predominantly native shrubland and forest in a limestone based ecosystem, and undertake an intensive pest control programme for the lifetime of the wind farm. Lizards within the construction corridor are also to be relocated elsewhere, and there will be a wider long-term lizard monitoring programme to measure responses of this fauna to the overarching environmental management plan.