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Te Mihi call-in - Board of Inquiry appointed

6 March 2008 Media Statement

Te Mihi call-in - Board of Inquiry appointed

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard today announced the members of a Board of Inquiry to consider Contact Energy’s proposal for a new geothermal power station at Te Mihi near Taupo.

Trevor Mallard has appointed a four-person board with Judge Gordon Whiting as the chairperson and Dr Patrick Browne, Denis Nugent and Glenice Paine as the board members.

The role of the board is to consider submissions on Contact’s applications for resource consent, to hold a public hearing and to make a final decision on its Te Mihi geothermal power station proposal.

"I am pleased to have a board chairperson and board members of such high calibre. In appointing the board members, I have considered their individual and collective expertise including technical skills about geothermal generation and their understanding of the Resource Management Act (RMA), hearing procedures and of tikanga Maori," said Trevor Mallard.

"I am confident the board members bring the appropriate skills and knowledge to this decision making process," he said.

On 22 January Trevor Mallard called in Contact’s applications for the Te Mihi proposal because of the proposal’s national significance. The call-in combines the council’s consideration and a potential Environment Court appeal process into a single consideration by a Board of Inquiry. The board will make final decisions on the application in accordance with district and regional plans.

Biographical information:

Judge Gordon Whiting was admitted to the bar in 1968 and is experienced in resource management law. He has been a District Court and an Environment Court judge since 1997. As an Environment Court judge he presided over many resource management cases, including applications for geothermal developments.

Dr Patrick Browne is a geologist and geochemist specialising in geothermal fields. He is an Honorary Research Fellow with the Institute of Earth Sciences and Engineering at Auckland University. He has been involved in considering and assessing geothermal developments in the Waikato and in the Bay of Plenty. Dr Browne will bring a technical understanding of geothermal systems and geothermal field development to the Board.

Denis Nugent is an independent planning and resource management consultant. He is an accredited RMA decision maker. Mr Nugent was appointed in 1992 as a member of the Board of Inquiry into the draft New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement. He has provided independent planning advice to Environment Waikato on geothermal proposals. He will bring a wide range of planning and resource management expertise to the Board.

Glenice Paine is of Te Atiawa and Ngai Tahu descent. She has RMA experience serving as Te Atiawa’s Resource Management Officer. She was appointed in 2006 as a member of the special tribunal to consider an application to amend the Buller Water Conservation Order. She was appointed to Nga Kahiautu Tikanga Taioa (Maori Advisory Committee to the Environmental Risk Management Authority) in 2003 and was reappointed for a further term in 2006. Ms Paine will bring a strong understanding of tikanga Maori, community and conservation values to the Board. She is accredited under the RMA Making Good Decisions programme.


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