All parties involved in the battle over Project Hayes agree on one thing - it's been an expensive exercise.

The six-year campaign has taken a toll personally and financially on participants, say opponents and supporters of the wind farm planned for the Lammermoor Range, which has been shelved by its backer, Meridian Energy.

Meridian has spent $8.9 million on the $2 billion project, and environmental groups and individuals involved in the various resource consent and legal proceedings are still counting their costs.

Save Central spokesman Graye Shattky estimated his group had spent more than $400,000 on the campaign. Updated figures of the costs incurred by the Central Otago District Council were not available yesterday, but the figure was about $200,000 before the matter reached the High Court more than a year ago.


"Regardless of what it's cost us, in time, in money, in days spent in court, it's all been worth it to get this outcome,'' former Upland Landscape Preservation Society trustee Ewan Carr said yesterday.

The society, which no longer exists, was one of the initial appellants against the project being granted resource consents.

"People, volunteers mostly, have made big sacrifices, but it's worth it when a large piece of Central Otago landscape worthy of protection has been saved,'' Mr Carr said.

Save Central member, Grahame Sydney, described the decision by Meridian to drop the project, as a "very rational one''.

"Our concern was that this was an inappropriate scheme in an inappropriate place.''

The district council made a serious mistake in supporting the project but changes to the district plan should make it harder for large-scale developments planned in "outstanding landscapes'' to gain resource consents, he said.

Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper admitted to having mixed feelings about Meridian shelving the project.

"It's been an expensive exercise for them and for us and for others. I guess it's a missed opportunity but then, a lot of people believed it was sited in the wrong place to have a wind farm. It certainly divided the community.''


If the project had gone ahead, 68 turbines would have been placed over 4000ha Lammermoor Station, owned by John and Susan Elliot.

"It's farming as usual for us. When the Environment Court made its ruling [in 2009], we knew from then on, the project was unlikely to go ahead, '' Mr Elliot said.

In November 2009, the Environment Court found the negative impacts of the project outweighed the positive and declined the resource consents that were earlier granted by the Central Otago and Otago Regional Councils. The court ruled the Lammermoor Range was an outstanding landscape.

Mr Elliot was disappointed for the Maniototo and for Otago that the project had not proceeded. It would have created employment, improved infrastructure and boosted the population of the area.

"But that's the way it goes, I guess, so I'm fairly philosophical about Meridian's call.''

John Douglas, of Alexandra, who opposed the project from the beginning, had some advice for other companies planning large scale developments: "Firstly; listen to the feelings of the local people, the groundswell of opinion.''