16 Feb 2009

DoC and Meridian have secret deal for silence over windfarm

8:00 am on 16 February 2009

The Department of Conservation has a secret deal with Meridian Energy in return for DoC's silence over a controversial wind farm in Central Otago.

A confidential document obtained by Radio New Zealand shows Meridian Energy agreed to pay DoC $175,000 in return for DoC not opposing the Project Hayes windfarm near Ranfurly.

The agreement was signed in May 2007 and called for a range of matters to be addressed.

The parties agreed DoC would drop all its outstanding issues in relation to Project Hayes and adopt a stance of neither for nor against the project.

DoC previously opposed wind farms such as development of 75-turbines in Hawke's Bay - in July 2005.

Meridian Energy has refused to comment on the deal.

Otago Conservator Jeff Connell told Morning Report it would have been completely inappropriate for DoC to oppose the windfarm, when the Government at the time supported it.