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Brownlee comments on Mokihinui dam welcomed

4 November 2009 – Wellington

Media release for immediate use

Wild rivers groups welcome Brownlee comments on Mokihinui dam

Wild rivers campaign groups have welcomed comments by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee that a hydro dam on the West Coast’s Mokihinui River will “not go ahead”.

At a public meeting in Nelson this week, Mr Brownlee responded to a question from the audience about the future of hydro dams by rejecting suggestions that the Government would support the Mokihinui hydro development proposed by Meridian Energy.

During questioning, Mr Brownlee said: “The Mokihinui [hydro scheme] will not go ahead.”

Meridian Energy wants to build an 85-metre-high dam on the West Coast’s third-largest river. More than 330 hectares of river gorge and forest would disappear under a 14-kilometre-long artificial lake, wiping out rare native blue ducks, giant land snails, longfin eels and many other creatures. Rafting, kayaking and tramping in and beside the river would become impossible.

Forest & Bird Wild Rivers Campaign Co-ordinator Debs Martin says Forest & Bird and the other wild river campaign groups are delighted to hear Mr Brownlee’s comments.

“His comments clearly show sympathy with our call to protect New Zealand’s remaining wild rivers because it doesn’t make environmental or economic sense to destroy them when there are other options that cause less environmental damage,” she says.

Mr Brownlee said at the meeting: “I don’t think you are going to see any large-scale dams built in the foreseeable future.”

The wild rivers campaign was launched last week by a coalition of eight environmental and recreational groups to celebrate and protect New Zealand’s wild rivers in the face of continued threats from hydro development and irrigation.

Commissioners are expected to announce a decision on the resource consent applications for the Mokihnui dam at the end of this month. Because the proposed dam is on public conservation land, the Conservation Minister must consider a proposal by Meridian to swap land for the dam with other non-conservation land.

More information on the wild rivers coalition at: http://www.wildrivers.org.nz/news/wild-rivers-campaign-launched


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