Go ahead for geothermal plant at Tahorakuri

Last updated 09:25 13/05/2010

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Mighty River Power's joint venture with Taupo Maori has been given the green light by local authorities to build the Ngatamariki Geothermal Development at Tahorakuri.

Environment Waikato (EW) hearings commissioners have granted 17 resource consents to the joint venture, with the Tauhara No 2 Trust, for the 110MW station, 25km northeast of Taupo, EW and the Taupo District Council said today.

The station is expected to cost approximately $400 million to build and should be operational before the winter of 2013.

EW and district council commissioners, who sat in joint hearings in March, said consent conditions would help manage any environmental risks associated with the project.

EW commissioners Jeff Jones and David Roke said they had taken into account the fact that the plant would create energy from a renewable source, cut greenhouse gas emissions and provide a significant economic opportunity for Maori.

They also said adverse effects predicted over the 35 years of the consents were not expected to be more than minor.

Any effects on the nearby Orakei Korako Geothermal System, which supports tourist operations, fell into the "low probability, high potential impact category", but the commissioners believed various conditions would help protect the system.

They also imposed consent conditions aimed at ensuring contaminant discharges to ground or water were properly managed.

The district council's independent hearings commissioners, Alan Watson and Bill Wasley, who granted the land use consents to construct, operate and maintain a geothermal power station, said the proposal "an appropriate development for the subject site to utilise an existing natural resource in a sustainable manner".

They also said that the proposal would have positive effects on the nation's electricity supply and provide economic benefits to the local and regional economy.

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