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Forest & Bird calls on Meridian to come clean

19 March 2008 - Nelson

Forest & Bird calls on Meridian to come clean over Mokihinui cover-up

Meridian Energy should come clean and make public an independent report that is believed to have advised the power company not to go ahead with a hydro scheme on the Mokihinui River, Forest & Bird says.

Last week West Coast Regional Council (jointly with Buller District Council) gave public notification of an application by Meridian Energy for resource consent to build a hydro power scheme on the Mokihinui River.

The proposed development involves construction of an 85-metre-high dam, which would flood 330 hectares of the river gorge and conservation land and create a 14-kilometre-long lake.

Forest & Bird Top of the South Field Officer Debs Martin says Meridian is not being honest with the public about the environmental impact of the hydro scheme. She called on Meridian to make public the findings of a report which the power company commissioned from environmental research organisation Landcare Research.

"We understand that the report concluded that the hydro scheme would cause significant environmental harm, and recommended that Meridian look elsewhere for its power generation needs," Debs Martin says.

"If Meridian was being honest about genuine public consultation in seeking consent for its scheme, it would make the Landcare report public. People can then make up their minds about the scheme after seeing the full assessment of its impact. Anything less is a cover-up."

The Mokihinui River is listed by the Government as the seventh most important river in New Zealand because of its natural heritage values, and is home to many endangered species, including blue duck (whio), long-finned eels, western weka, great spotted kiwi, long-tailed bats, kereru and kakariki.

"The Mokihinui River and the wilderness that surrounds it is so important for our natural biodiversity that we simply can't afford to lose it under nearly 100 metres of water," Debs Martin says.

"Meridian Energy boasts its reputation as generating all its power from renewable resources. But when you spend time in the Mokihinui Gorge, you realise that electricity generation that destroys an important wilderness area and endangered wildlife is not renewable.

"We ask Meridian Energy to look at genuinely environmentally friendly power generation and let the Mokihinui River remain as one of our last true wilderness rivers."

ENDS

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