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Councils best placed for Marsden B applications

23 February 2005

Councils best placed for Marsden B applications

All environmental effects from a coal-fired Marsden B power station would be fully considered in resource consent application hearings conducted by Northland councils, Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said today.

"Ministerial 'call-in' is not necessary to ensure this occurs," Marian Hobbs said. "Northland councils are the appropriate authorities to deal with the consent applications."

Mighty River Power has applied for consents to re-commission the Marsden B power station. Since then, a number of Whangarei community groups and Greenpeace New Zealand have written to the minister requesting that she ‘call in’ the consents.

"Under the Resource Management Act I am able to call-in applications of national significance and I have received other such requests in the past. In this case, however, I do not think a call-in is appropriate," Marian Hobbs said.

"Mighty River Power's application to re-commission the Marsden B power station and burn coal to generate electricity is certainly a controversial proposal. Northland Regional Council and Whangarei District Council have the expertise and experience to deal with the applications.

"My key concern as Minister is to ensure effects of such a proposal are properly assessed and properly managed and I make no judgement on whether the Marsden B re-commissioning proposal should proceed or not.

"There are issues that I would expect the local community to be interested in, such as the discharge of contaminants into the air and the effects on the coastal environment. I am satisfied that the councils involved are able to deal with these issues and there is no need to use the call-in process to appoint an independent Board of Inquiry to consider the applications on the basis of those issues."

Marian Hobbs said that the emission of C02 from the burning of coal and its effects on the global environment will be of concern to some people, but that was being addressed separately.

"CO2 emissions are now considered under the government's climate change policies and not the Resource Management Act, and the station would be subject to the carbon charge that will apply from 2007," Marian Hobbs said. "As such, climate change environmental costs of Marsden B will be taken into account automatically."

Other issues relating to the applications, for example, national conservation values would best be dealt with by the Department of Conservation.

ENDS

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