The decision to grant resource consent for an 85m hydro dam on the Mokihinui River is the wrong one, the Green Party said today.
“The Mokihinui is one of the most environmentally significant and biodiverse rivers in the country. Damming it would permanently reverse this,” Green Party Conservation Spokesperson and West Coast MP Kevin Hague said.
The commissioners hearing the consent application today decided to grant consent for Meridian Energy’s proposed hydro dam. The decision was split 2-1.
“If this dam goes ahead, the Mokihinui will permanently lose its environmental and biodiversity value,” Mr Hague said.
“There is no way to mitigate or offset the effect of a dam like the one proposed. Meridian Energy’s own report to suggest ways to do this back in 2008 found that it would be impossible.
“The Mokihinui is home to twelve species of native fish including the chronically endangered long-finned eel. The Mokihinui is one of the few unpolluted and undammed habitats left for the long-finned eel.
“The eel population will be disastrously affected by the dam, which will prevent them from migrating to the sea to breed and returning back to the upper reaches of the river to mature.
“The dam will also drown 330 hectares of native rainforest,” Mr Hague said.
Mr Hague said that although the consent has been granted the dam still needs to obtain DOC concessions to cut down and flood tall rare forest, reduce habitat, and most likely kill threatened species such as whio, kiwi and long-finned eel.
“This Minister of Conservation has some ground to make up over the mining issue,” Mr Hague said.
“I urge her to do the right thing and refuse these concessions when they come up.”
Mr Hague said he could not understand the decision given that a scheme to use polluted water from coal mines on the Stockton Plateau to generate hydro electricity had already been granted consents, meaning there would be no need for further hydro power generation on the West Coast.
“There is nothing to recommend this dam. I urge the Minister of Conservation to act as a good landlord of the public land affected when she gets the chance,” he said.
Mr Hague said in the meantime the Green Party would read the decision to grant the resource consent carefully and consider joining any appeal against it.