Greens call on Minister to call in new polluting power plant
16 September 2016
Greens call on Minister to “call in” new polluting power plant
The Green Party launched a campaign today to stop the proposed construction of a new gas-fired power plant in South Waikato that would increase greenhouse gas emissions, causing climate change.
Nova Energy has applied for resource consents to build a gas-burning power plant near Otorohanga. The Green Party is asking Environment Minister Nick Smith to “call in” the application on the grounds that burning more fossil fuels will affect New Zealand’s obligations under the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and then decline Nova’s application.
“The National Government needs to show it takes climate change seriously and stop new fossil fuel power plants from being built,” said Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes.
“At this time in history the choice should be easy: investing in clean, renewable energy, not building new power plants that burn dirty fracked gas and cause climate change.
“This gas plant will increase New Zealand’s carbon emissions, when we’re supposed to be reducing emissions.
“We’ll need to plant up to 17,000 hectares of trees to suck up the extra carbon pollution.
“We simply don’t need to burn more fossil fuels when there’s almost 4000 MW of renewable generation consented and ready to be built, and smarter ways to use and conserve power.
“All New Zealanders deserve a say on this dirty gas project, but they won’t get that because only directly affected neighbours will be able to submit on the ‘limited notification’ consent application,” said Mr Hughes.
The Green Party is asking people to sign an open letter to Nick Smith online at http://action.greens.org.nz/gas.
Nova Energy, owned by Todd Corporation, has applied for resource consents to build a new gas-powered electricity generation plant in South Waikato near the two main pipeline that carry gas north from Taranaki.
The plant would generate up to 360 MW when running at full capacity. Its location suggests it is designed to power the upper North Island.
It would burn gas, including from Taranaki where controversial fracking techniques are used.
As a “peaker” plant, it would be designed to run at times of peak demand. However, many peaker plants also run at other times, responding to price signals in the wholesale market.
Calculations by the Parliamentary Library suggest that if the proposed gas plant runs at a similar “normal” level to Contact Energy’s Stratford gas peaker plant, it would generate 425 kt of greenhouse gas emissions a year, or 0.52 percent of New Zealand’s total emissions.
Section 142 of the Resource Management Act allows the Minister for the Environment to “call in” a resource consent application so that it is considered by either the Minister or an independent panel, rather than local councils.
Section 142 criteria include whether a project is relevant to New Zealand’s international obligations to the environment. In this case, burning fossil fuels is directly relevant to our obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Climate Agreement.