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No to Marsden B, but yes to future pet projects?

“Call-in” – No to Marsden B, but yes to future pet projects?

“While the Government has refused to ‘call-in’ the Marsden B power station on environmental grounds it is considering a new call-in procedure to fast track its own pet projects,” Forest and Bird’s Conservation Manager Kevin Hackwell said today.

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs today rejected a request from environmental groups to ‘call-in’ Mighty River Power's application to re-commission the Marsden B power station as a coal fired power station, saying that councils were best placed to make the decision on the controversial scheme.

“It is unlikely that local authorities will still be considered best placed to make decisions on major infrastructure projects if the Government gets the new National Development Act-like powers that are presently before Parliament,” he said.

“There were important national and international environmental grounds for calling-in the Marsden B power station,” he said.

“Environment Minister Marian Hobbs won’t put the Marsden B project through a robust national call-in process that retains Environment Court appeal rights. However the Government clearly anticipates putting its own pet projects through a fast track process that would strip submitters of their right to appeal decisions to the Environment Court, he said.

Last year Forest and Bird revealed a draft paper by the Ministry for the Environment that listed 39 major infrastructure projects that officials identified as the kind of project that the Government anticipated fast tracking with its proposed new call-in procedure. Projects included a private saw mill, hydro electric schemes, transmission line upgrades, coal fired power stations and even a prison.

“Under the proposed new call-in process, the Government will appoint a Board to hear decisions on its pet infrastructure projects without having to worry that the Board’s decisions will be appealed to the Environment Court,” Mr Hackwell said.

“We haven’t seen an obsession with infrastructure like this since the days of Sir Robert Muldoon’s ‘Think Big’ disasters,” Mr Hackwell said.

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