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DOC holding up Bay of Plenty power project

Don Brash MP National Party Leader

9 August 2006

DOC holding up Bay of Plenty power project

It is outrageous that the Department of Conservation spent 13 months deciding on a concession application for the upper Kaituna hydro project only to recommend it be declined, says National Party Leader Don Brash.

Dr Brash today visited the site by helicopter, as access is difficult by any other means. The project, proposed by Bay of Plenty Electricity, would supply 13.5 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 10,000 homes.

"The project requires both approval under the Resource Management Act and the granting of a concession under the Conservation Act," says Dr Brash.

"That's because it will inundate between 0.5 and 1ha of a 54ha reserve.

"We haven't even got to the RMA approval stage yet, and the project is already facing roadblocks thanks to DOC's intransigence.

"National is very concerned that DOC officials have recommended that the concession which would allow this scheme to go ahead be declined, given that the reserve area to be inundated is so small.

"And it is ridiculous that it takes DOC 13 months to consider an application for an area of land less than a hectare in size - and that is even before the company seeks consent under the RMA.

"This project has the capacity to produce renewable power for a region which has seen the lights go out already this winter.

"As a consequence of the axing of other hydro schemes like Dobson on the West Coast and project Aqua, New Zealand has ended up with the worst possible environmental outcome - the burning of coal to generate electricity.

"The Government must look at these constant roadblocks to new power generation, and ensure that new generation can be built quickly."

ENDS

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