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Council agrees on changes to geothermal plans

Environment Waikato’s Policy Committee has recommended a framework and principles for changing its policies on managing geothermal resources in the Region to the Council.

The changes take into account the nature of geothermal energy and the effects of its use on the environment.

The Council has reviewed its Regional Policy Statements and Regional Plan and redrafted the geothermal management sections for further consultation.

Chairman Evan Penny said the issue was important to the Region as it had 80 percent of New Zealand’s geothermal systems producing 13 percent of the country’s primary energy.

“In the past we have said no to applications for new geothermal use, because of the potential effects on the environment and the community. The current extraction at Wairakei was granted under old consents issued by Central Government.

“More recently Environment Waikato turned down an application to use resources at the Tauhara field because of the potential environmental effects. This decision was subsequently overturned and consents were granted by the Environment Court at a lower rate of extraction.”

Cr Penny said the issues for Regional Councils under the Resource Management Act was to balance public good regarding energy sources with geothermal features. Policies aim to set a framework for this balance, he said.

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