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Hydro Report No Basis For Energy Planning

Wednesday July 28, 2004

Hydro Report No Basis For Energy Planning

Fish & Game New Zealand said that the Report issued today by the Ministry of Economic Development on “Waters of National Importance - Identification of Potential Hydroelectric Resources” was inadequate for energy planning.

“A number of things concern us about this Report,” says Bryce Johnson Director of Fish & Game. “One is the quality of the analysis and secondly some of the rivers the Report is saying have a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ confidence of being dammed for hydro power.”

Fish & Game Assistant Director Neil Deans says: “This Report contains some simplistic analyses. It uses very old information. It reads likes a once over lightly review of hydro potential where they have cobbled together some old material. For example, with its analyses of rivers it does not factor in such issues as sedimentation effects on hydro schemes, residual flows, or recreational use. We would be very concerned if it was used as a basis for future energy planning.”

Says Neil Deans: “There are a lot of assumptions and some errors. For example, the generation figures are based on being able to take virtually all the flow. There is no estimate of a realistic minimum flow which would reduce the generation ability of any such hydro proposals.”

Says Bryce Johnson: “The report identifies some very important rivers for hydro generation that have major environmental or recreational values such as the Waitaki, Ngaruroro, Clutha, Wairau and Hurunui Rivers. According to the Report the South Island has the potential to be covered in dams. It identifies 11 possible hydro projects in Canterbury alone, nine in Otago and seven on the West Coast.”

Says Bryce Johnson: “The Ministry for Economic Development seems to be signalling with this Report its continuing faith in hydro development despite the huge environmental costs the country pays for such schemes. Our energy future lies not in damming more and more rivers, but in conserving energy and looking for better alternatives such as wind and solar energy. New Zealand’s natural resources are finite and do not exist for continual pillaging by commercial interests. Economic growth does not need to equate to automatic energy growth.”


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