PCE report over simplifies a complex issue
Thursday 31 May 2012
Meridian Energy says the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) report Hydroelectricity or wild rivers over simplifies a complex and important issue.
Meridian Chief Executive Mark Binns says “Overall the report has a strong environmental protection theme, which we support. However the inference is that there are only win/lose outcomes. This is a serious concern.”
Mr Binns says there are many examples of hydro schemes in New Zealand that co-exist with high ecological, landscape and societal values.
“New Zealand cannot afford to look at such complex matters in such a binary fashion. Hydro electricity makes up approximately 60 per cent of our country’s electricity needs and around 17 per cent from the stations on the Waitaki River alone.
“In today’s environment it would be virtually impossible to undertake the hydro schemes New Zealand has in the Waitaki Valley, but if we didn’t have those assets what would the environmental impact be from an alternative fuel source?,” says Mr Binns.
“The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment has gone beyond her scope and rationale with this report and in doing so has presented all hydro on all rivers in a negative light.”
Mr Binns says a number of hydro schemes in New Zealand are exemplary and have very high ecological, landscape and societal values. For example, New Zealand’s second largest hydro scheme at Manapōuri is situated within a World Heritage Park. The largest hydro catchment in NZ, the Waitaki, includes the Ahuriri River that is of such high value it is protected by a water conservation order,” adds Mr Binns.
The recreational value of hydro is close to the heart of many New Zealanders - Lake Benmore is the second most fished water body in NZ. Lake Ruataniwha is a focal point for South Island rowing. Both of these lakes exist because of hydro infrastructure.
“Meridian accepts the report exists within a narrow theme but we believe this debate needs to be wider. We have to start to focus on how we can collaborate to rule projects in and still deliver net benefits to the environment. This can be done.”
Meridian has water only resource consents for its North Bank Hydro Project on the banks of the Waitaki, where it believes it has balanced the interests of all parties.
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