Artist Grahame Sydney yesterday said nuclear power in New Zealand was preferable to a huge wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in CentralOtago.
The Maniototo Environmental Society's fourth witness at the Environment Court hearing in Cromwell into Meridian Energy's Project Hayes windfarm proposal, the artist said he was opposed to all the turbines on the 92sq km site.
"If given the option between 176 turbines on the sweeping Central Otago vistas and a single nuclear station, I would certainly prefer the latter," Sydney said during cross-examination. He said after the hearing that nuclear energy, with several other options, was dependable and predictable, unlike wind generation.
In his written evidence, he had said landscapes had a power and a meaning which was real, mysterious, andvital to many people's sense ofidentity.
"They play a vital role, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual, in the lives of New Zealanders."
Sydney, a professional painter and printmaker, said Central Otago landscapes had a greater capacity to affect people's imagination than most others in New Zealand.
He said Old Dunstan Rd was in the truest sense "a yellow brick road" as it was used by early goldminers, and an extraordinary sense of its history lingered on.
Meridian Energy counsel Humphrey Tapper said Project Hayes' specific site did not prominently feature in an art archive produced by 30 artists expressing Central Otago landscapes.
"To say that demonstrates any lesser significance is churlish," Sydney said.
Oturehua poet and writer Brian Turner said in evidence Central Otago was an entity, the landscapes of which were emotionally and spiritually important to people.
"I see myself in the hills and valleys of Central Otago and feel I am being watched by them. I am a creature of the wide-open spaces, I feel liberated there, imbued with the possibilities otherwise denied me," Turnersaid.
When cross-examined by Mr Tapper, Turner agreed parts of the Lammermoor Range were no longer pristine but said that the lands "still strike most as wild, and often dramatic and wonderful".
Turner's evidence concluded the Maniototo Environmental Society's argument in relation to the landscape, visual, heritage and historical aspects of Project Hayes.