The Upper Clutha Environmental Society has opposed a development to create nine solar-powered house lots at Camp Hill, next to the Hāwea River between Albert Town and Lake Hāwea.
Former All Black captain Richie McCaw’s company Romeo Mike Investments Ltd owns one-quarter of Camp Hill Rd Ltd, the company that has applied for consent to subdivide the 44.22ha of rural general land.
Multisport athlete Braden Currie and his wife Sally are also shareholders, with one-quarter of the company.
The application described the land as mostly "unkempt" and previously used for forestry.
The development would create nine freeholds "rural-living allotments" and one 19.72ha allotment with shared ownership.
The large allotment would have a 240sq m, 30kW solar photovoltaic array, charging a centralized battery bank, and a back-up diesel generator.
It is understood the development would contain Otago’s first "micro-grid" electricity system not reliant on the national grid or lines company Aurora Energy. The company submitted an off-grid independent model that was considered "the most reliable and sustainable electrical solution".
"The proposal ... offers an ideal opportunity to develop and present an exemplar community development that would demonstrate total energy independence, self-sufficiency, and best practice building efficiencies,” the company said.
In its written submission, the Society said the Environment Court had shown concern at the cumulative effects of development in the Upper Clutha’s rural landscape.
“The Society stands by its submission (March 2020) that the actual, potential and cumulative effects of the proposal on natural resources will be significant and adverse because of the visual effects, amenity effects, effects on naturallandscape values and cumulative effects of an additional nine rural living complexes and six sheds will be significant and adverse.”
It added that the council was in the process of addressing the issue through its district plan review.
"It is difficult to see how consent can be granted to random subdivisions such as the one proposed while the process of correcting the fundamental weakness of the district plan provisions ... is in train," the Society said.
Council senior planner Sarah Gathercole recommended the application be refused because the adverse effects on the rural landscape would be more than minor and inappropriate.
The company’s application was heard by Queenstown Lakes District Council independent commissioners Jane Taylor and Jane Sinclair, in Wānaka last week.
Read edition 990 of the Wānaka Sun here.