Climate policy hole: big enough to drive a coal-fired power station through
*Auckland**, Sunday 16 July, 2006*: Greenpeace has condemned the huge hole in policies to manage New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution, after the Environment Court ruled against part of Greenpeace’s appeal opposing the re-firing of Marsden B power station on coal, saying that the effects of the station’s discharge on climate change could not be considered.
“This decision points to a gaping hole in New Zealand’s policies to reduce our greenhouse pollution, a hole big enough to drive a coal-fired power station through – Marsden B,” said Greenpeace campaigner Vanessa Atkinson.
“It is outrageous if the first New Zealand coal-fired power station in 25 years could go ahead without any consideration of its effects on climate change at any stage in the decision making process, at a time when scientists are ringing alarm bells about the urgent need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions..
The Resource Management Act (RMA) was amended in 2004 to remove regional councils’ ability to directly manage and regulate greenhouse emissions. However Greenpeace argued that the RMA still provides for climate change to be considered through the benefits of renewable energy development in reducing climate change emissions.
Greenpeace submitted to the Environment Court that Marsden B will shut out renewable energy sources, which otherwise would have lowered greenhouse pollution, so climate change does need to be considered to that extent.
The Environment Court did not agree and held that it was a national regulatory issue not for regional councils.
“This decision underlines the current state of disarray of New Zealand’s climate policy and the urgent need to sort out our climate and energy policies. The Government needs to intervene now and ensure that climate change impacts of a greenhouse pollution-belching project like Marsden B are considered. To do otherwise makes a mockery of New Zealand’s acknowledgement of the dire need to address climate change.
“We urgently need policies to lower our emissions, encourage renewable technology such as wind farms, stop climate-polluting power sources such as Marsden B, phase out coal and increase energy efficiency to lead us to a 100% renewable electricity sector,” concluded Atkinson.
Greenpeace is considering whether or not to appeal this decision to the High Court.
Marsden B would annually release up to 2.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and present risks to human health and the environment from mercury, dioxin and sulphur emissions.
*Note to Editor*
The interim decision of the Environment Court means that parts of Greenpeace’s appeal dealing with renewable energy in the context of climate change were struck out.
The court did agree that the effects of climate change on Marsden B (for example sea level rise) could be considered. Other parts of the appeal such as discharges of mercury, dioxins and sulphur dioxide are still to be considered in the overall appeal against Marsden B which is yet to be heard.
*History of Marsden B*
In September 2005, Mighty River Power, a Government owned power company, was granted a resource consent by the Northland Regional Council to build New Zealand’s first major coal fired power station in over 25 years.
In October 2005, Greenpeace and other community groups lodged an appeal to the Environment Court.
In February 2006, Mighty River Power called for proceedings in the overall appeal to be put on hold while it negotiated access to Department of Conservation land. Another hearing date has yet to be set.
Also in February 2006 MRP submitted to the Environment Court that climate change could not be considered in the overall appeal.
On July 11th 2006 the Environment Court made its decision regarding the relevance of climate change to the overall appeal.