Applicants challenged the granting of resource consents to Meridian Energy for the construction of a wind farm using up to 176 wind turbines. The Environment Court of New Zealand conducted a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed wind farm and determined that the project did not comply with the Resource Management Act because the substantial adverse impacts on the natural landscape outweighed the positive factors, principally the large quantity of renewable energy.
Meridian appealed the decision challenging the court’s use of cost-benefit analysis and consideration of alternative sites. The High Court of New Zealand allowed the appeal and remanded the case back to the Environment Court. While the High Court found that the Environment Court was permitted to use cost benefit analysis, it instructed the court to allow Meridian to give further information on alternatives and opportunity to present a market-based analysis of impacts. In addition, the High Court denied a cross-appeal alleging the court had erred in considering climate change impacts without first determining the extent to which climate change is caused by human activity.
Before the Environment Court revisited the issue, Meridian announced that it had withdrawn its applications for resource consent.