10 Nov 2023

Tekapo solar farm application rejected on ecological grounds

From Nine To Noon, 9:05 am on 10 November 2023
stock image of a solar farm

stock image of a solar farm Photo: befunky.com

A resource consent application for a large solar farm planned for the Mackenzie Basin has been rejected, on ecological grounds.

Andrew and Karen Simpson, of Balmoral Station, near Lake Tekapo, want to build and operate an 88-megawatt solar farm on 113 hectares which would produce enough electricity to power up to 13,000 homes.

A joint Mackenzie District Council and Environment Canterbury hearing was held in Christchurch in August, and the three Commissioners' decision has just been made public - refusing the consent.

They say the development risked permanent and irreversible loss of threatened land environments, and would potentially impact indigenous flora and fauna species.

The decision has been welcomed by the Environmental Defence Society, which opposed the application because it threatened indigenous biodiversity.

But what does this mean for the country's pathway towards decarbonising the energy sector? 

I spoke with EDS chief executive Gary Taylor a short time ago.

But first Roger Sutton chief executive of mid-Canterbury lines company EA Networks, which submitted in favour of the proposal.