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Whangarei locals and national environment groups

Whangarei locals and national environment groups urge Ministerial call-in of Marsden B

Wednesday 9 February 2005: Local residents, local Iwi, Greenpeace NZ and other national environmental groups opposed to the Marsden B coal power project have formally called on the Minister for the Environment, Ms Marian Hobbs, to "call-in" Mighty River Power's proposed recommission of the old power station near Whangarei as a coal burner.

In a submission to the Government, the groups (1) say that the application is of national significance and that allowing the new 320MW coal station would be counter to the government's own polices and international obligations which commit New Zealand to reducing climate pollutants and toxic emissions.

Might River Power have sought resource consent to discharge a raft of persistent and toxic substances to air, water and land and Marsden B would annually release up to 2 million tonnes of CO2 - the worst greenhouse gas.

"This coal station is a bad idea on all fronts," said Laurence Berry, spokesman for the residents. "It's bad for our health, bad for the local environment and bad for the global environment too. There is a strong and growing local opposition - the people are outraged and the more they find out the more they don't want Marsden B to go ahead," says Berry. "We have so much wind resource in Northland - why don't we utilise it?"

Greenpeace is also firmly opposed to the Marsden B which, if built, would be New Zealand's first major coal-fired power station in nearly 25 years. "Climate change is the number one threat to the integrity of life on our planet and burning coal is one of the biggest causes. With scientists warning that we may only have ten years to stop catastrophic climate change Marsden B represents a big step backwards," said Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel. "Climate change is a major issue of national significance, and Mighty River's proposal for this reason alone should be called in."

Mighty River Power's plans to burn 700-830,000 tonnes of coal annually at the Marsden B power station has stirred strong opposition from across the country. The call in request is also supported by Forest and Bird, The Bream Head Restoration Trust and ECO.

(1) Signatories to the call-in request: Whangarei Heads Citizens Association Urquharts Bay Association Incorporated Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand

Supporters of the call in request: Patuharakeke Te Iwi Trust Board The Bream Head Restoration Trust The Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society ECO (Environment and Conservation Organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand) The Buller Conservation Group Ngakawau Riverwatch Inc. Taranaki Energy Watch

Core concerns outlined in Call in request:

- this matter has aroused widespread public concern, - burning coal fuels global warming and climate change - Marsden B will release to the atmosphere up to 2.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum, meaning it will rival the Huntly power station in its emission rates, - the application underlines the need for a national sustainable energy generation strategy. Approval of the proposal will undermine New Zealand moving towards renewable energy generation projects, - poisonous discharges and emissions of persistent and toxic substances and heavy metals, including mercury, cadmium, arsenic, sulphur dioxide and dioxins will contaminate the sea and surrounding environments - the effects are relevant to the global environment and to New Zealand's national and international obligations; namely greenhouse gases and persistent organic pollutants (POPs); - storage of ash waste close to the facility is not environmentally secure. There are no considerations for removal of the ash or proposed clean-up in the case of accidents, discontinuation or closing of the plant, - Marsden B violates the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in relation to pollution of air, land and water, including kai moana.

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