Introduction

An application from Westpower Ltd for concessions to construct and operate a run of river hydro-electric power scheme on the Waitaha River, near Hokitika, has been declined.

Date:  28 August 2019 Source:  Office of the Minister for the Environment

Environment Minister David Parker said the application was declined because establishing the power scheme in this location would have significant impacts on the natural character of the area, the intrinsic value of the area and people’s enjoyment of it.

“The area is largely unmodified by humans. It is near to pristine and yet is accessible for recreation.

“The area is valued for its natural beauty and wilderness qualities for recreation. The proposal would have significantly undermined the area’s intrinsic values which people experience when they tramp and kayak there.

“I considered expert advice and submitters’ views, and concluded that the adverse effects of the activity could not be adequately or reasonably mitigated.

“Westpower’s application was careful and comprehensive. I recognise it invested substantial time, energy and money in the process,” David Parker said.

“I thank the applicant and the submitters, for and against, for participating in this important process.”

Waitaha Hydro Scheme: Decision letter on application for concessions (PDF, 5,078K)

Background information

  • The hydro scheme proposal was a run-of-river scheme. No instream storage (dam) was required. A weir and other structures would have been constructed at the upstream end of Morgan Gorge. 
  • A 2 km access road and associated infrastructure (powerhouse, tunnel) was proposed to be constructed as part of the proposal. 
  • The proposal was to divert the river flow into the power scheme tunnel at the head of Morgan Gorge. The water would be returned to the river 2.6 km downstream, below the proposed powerhouse. 

Read further decision reports and background information on the application.

Contact

Media contact: Vernon Small +64 21 849 517

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