N.Z. resource bodies reject 9.6-MW Mokau project

Local utility King Country Energy said it is reviewing its options in the face of rejection by local environmental panels of its consent application to build the 9.6-MW Mokau hydroelectric project on New Zealand’s Mokau River.

Officials of Environment Waikato, representing the Waikato Regional Council, and the Waitomo District Council both rejected the hydropower project, declaring environmental effects of the project to be “significantly adverse.”

Environment Waikato particularly objected to: adverse effects on downstream aquatic life due to fluctuating flows; adverse effect on aquatic biodiversity; significant effects on native cultural heritage sites and values; effects on landscape, visual, and amenity values in the Mokau Valley; and loss of regionally significant whitewater rapids, affecting recreation.

The Waitomo District Council concurred in the Waikato findings, concluding the project falls short of key statutory requirements.

King Country Energy applied for resource consents in early 2005, saying Mokau would help meet local power needs based on an environmentally friendly renewable resource. The project was to have a 44-meter-tall, 160-meter-long earthen dam located 4.3 kilometers downstream from Wairere Falls Dam.

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