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Water-Only Consents For North Bank Tunnel

Meridian Granted Water-Only Consents For North Bank Tunnel

Meridian has received notification of an interim decision that it has been granted water-only consents for its North Bank Tunnel Concept (NBTC).

The NBTC would divert water from behind the Waitaki Dam into a large underground tunnel, through a power station then return it to the Waitaki River at Stonewall, 34 kilometres downstream. It will generate an average of between 1100GWh and 1400 GWH of electricity annually - enough to supply the households in the city the size of Christchurch.

The decision follows a hearing that was conducted over an extended period of 12 months beginning in August 2007.

Meridian Chief Executive Tim Lusk says he is pleased to finally have a decision, since this proposal was initially presented during the Waitaki Water Allocation Plan hearings in 2005.

“We are delighted to have received this very comprehensive interim decision, so our next step is to work through it carefully to better understand it and its implications for the project,” he says.

“This winter’s power situation has brought into sharp focus the need for Meridian to maximise output from its existing assets, including those we have on the Waitaki River. In addition, we are certainly aware of the imperative for economic growth in these challenging times and this project represents one such exciting opportunity”

The water-only consents allow the water take and discharge. Meridian’s next steps will be to consider undertaking the engineering studies necessary to support applications for land-use and construction consents for the building of the tunnel and power station. Obtaining these consents could take several years. If consented, construction could start as early as 2012.

ENDS

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