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Draft report not relevant to real-world hydro prop

Media Release
For immediate release: Tuesday 15 April 2008

Draft report not relevant to real-world hydro proposals

Meridian has today released a draft report related to its West Coast Mokihinui hydro proposal in response to a request under the Official Information Act.

Calculating Biodiversity Offsets for the Mokihinui Hydro Proposal (draft) was prepared by Landcare Research, and provided to Meridian in December last year.

“The draft report was intended to be an innovative look – using a relatively untested methodology and never used in New Zealand before – on how to achieve the best ecological outcome, should the Mokihinui hydro proposal go ahead,” says Claire Shaw of Meridian.

“We hoped it would provide guidance on how to deliver an overall biodiversity gain.

“It was a real disappointment, however, when the biodiversity offset model was fully applied, it turned out to be unsuitable for a real-world hydro proposal and of academic interest only.”

One of the recommendations from the draft report was for a hydro project to achieve no overall biodiversity losses it would be necessary to remove an existing dam from a similar West Coast river.

“This would mean that nothing could be built without removing a similar structure somewhere else,” says Claire Shaw.

“This suggestion lacks common sense and Meridian does not intend to progress the report beyond the draft stage. It will not be considered as part of the resource consent process for the Mokihinui hydro proposal.

“The Mokihinui hydro proposal is a real and viable option for providing renewable generation on the West Coast, which has limited existing local generation, and it would provide a much higher level of security of supply.”

Meridian is currently seeking resource consents and other statutory approvals for the Mokihinui hydro proposal, which would involve the construction of a new hydro generation facility on the Mokihinui River in the Buller District, north of Westport.

Meridian has engaged a number of expert terrestrial and aquatic ecologists to ensure that biodiversity impacts of building and operating the Mokihinui hydro proposal would be avoided, remedied or mitigated as required by the Resource Management Act and the Conservation Act.

In some instances, such as the implementation of a substantial predator control program, Meridian hopes to be able to achieve significant net ecological gains for many species of native fauna, particularly the Blue Duck.


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