The Environment Court is to decide the fate of the plans for country's two largest windfarm proposals. An appeal has already been lodged over a resource consent given to a 75 turbine windfarm in Hawkes Bay, proposed by a consortium known as Hawkes Bay Windfarm Ltd.

Now Makara residents say they will take their opposition to a windfarm on the south west coast near Wellington, to the Environment Court as well. Resource consent was granted yesterday in a unanimous decision by a panel of four Commissioners for Meridian Energy's Project West Wind, with 70 turbines.

Meridian spokesperson Alan Seay says work could start as early as next year. Residents claim that there is nowhere else in the world where turbines of this size have been permitted under 2km from houses.

The Hawkes Bay windfarm will produce 220 megawatts of electricity, or 2% of New Zealand's current electricity consumption. Output from Makara is planned to be 210 megawatts - equivalent to enough power for 110,000 houses. The largest windfarm currently operating is at Te Apiti in the Manawatu. It was commissioned in November last year; has 55 turbines and produces 90 megawatts of electricity.