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Mighty River Power must face inconvenient truth

Mighty River Power must face its own inconvenient truth as Greenpeace wins High Court case

Auckland, 12 October 2006: Greenpeace today heralded a decision by the High Court to allow climate change to be considered in its appeal against Mighty River Power's proposed Marsden B coal-fired power station.

The decision (1) means that Mighty River Power will no longer be able to ignore climate change when proposing coal-fired power stations and that renewable energy projects will be easier to get through the RMA process than coal-fired.

It overturns a previous Environment Court ruling, which Greenpeace challenged in the High Court last month.

Greenpeace has been consistently arguing that the building of Marsden B would shut out renewable energy sources, which otherwise would have lowered greenhouse pollution, so climate change does need to be considered to that extent.

"This ruling today is an inconvenient truth for Mighty River Power, which should not be building coal fired power stations and adding millions of tonnes of C02 to the atmosphere, but committing to renewable energy instead," said Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace campaign manager.

"The Government seems to be utterly unable to face putting a price on carbon any time soon. This would encourage renewable energy and discourage the likes of Marsden B," she added.

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. The High Court decision today confirms that it does.

The question of how New Zealand deals with climate change is an issue of hot debate and this High Court decision adds to that. The Government is currently reviewing its climate change policies and there is a bill currently being considered by Select Committee to make it clear that climate change and renewable energy must be considered at a regional as well as a national level. Greenpeace made a submission in support of that bill.

Every year, Marsden B would release up to 2.17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and present potential risks to human health and the environment from its mercury, dioxin and sulphur emissions.

Ends Contact: Cindy Baxter, Campaign Manager - 021 772 661 Dean Baigent-Mercer, Communications Officer - 021 790 817

(1) The Court held that consents to discharge greenhouse gases which include renewable energy proposals are more likely to be granted than ones that do not and, to that extent, consent authorities may have regard to the effects of the Marsden B discharge on climate change, since an application which involves renewable energy amounts to a beneficial "human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere."

*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 Mighty River Power 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.

On August 3rd 2006 Greenpeace appealed the decision on climate change to the High Court

On Monday 25th September the High Court hearing occurred regarding climate change.

The overall appeal, including concerns about mercury, dioxin and sulphur dioxide still stands, but remains on hold pending Mighty River Power's application for access to DOC land.


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