Massive hydro scheme gets green light

01:43, Jan 31 2009

TrustPower's plans for a $275 million hydro scheme in Marlborough's Wairau Valley have been granted resource consents, the company says.

The proposed 72 megawatt scheme would take water from the Wairau River, and pass it though six power stations, including the existing Branch River hydro scheme, before returning the water to the river some 50km downstream.

TrustPower said today that it had been advised by Marlborough District Council that it had been granted the resource consents needed to build the scheme.

The full resource consents followed interim consents issued in June 2007 after six months of hearings by a panel of independent commissioners, and a subsequent hearing to determine a wide range of conditions designed to minimise impact on the environment.

TrustPower chief executive Keith Tempest said the issuing of the full suite of resource consents and conditions had justified the time, effort and expense TrustPower had put into the proposal since it was first mooted in 2002.

"The proposed scheme will provide direct benefits to upper South Island communities and indirect benefits to the rest of New Zealand through the freeing up of electricity currently imported into that region for more efficient use elsewhere," he said.

"At the same time it will assist New Zealand to meet its targets of increased sustainable generation using local natural resources, with minimal impact on the environment."

TrustPower's shares closed at $7.75 yesterday, having ranged between $9.50 last October and $6.95 in January.