Waikato Regional Council has decided it is not necessary or appropriate to review Mighty River Power’s consent conditions that authorise its Waikato hydroelectricity generation operations.
The consents, which took effect in 2006, allow the company to manage water levels in Lake Taupo within a specified range.
The council has been considering whether to carry out a review, as it is able to do every five years under the consents, amid concerns from some parties that the lake management regime is causing significant foreshore erosion around the lake.
The decision not to review the consents came after the council commissioned technical advice from independent experts. They concluded that the evidence did not show that lake level management contributed significantly to foreshore erosion.
In his written decision, the council’s consented sites division manager Brent Sinclair noted that after considering all of the evidence, including the views of interested parties such as Friends of Lake Taupo and Taupo District Council, it was found that the effects of the activities authorised by the consents were essentially what was authorised at the time the original consents decision was made by independent commissioners and, subsequently, by the Environment Court.
Mr Sinclair also noted legal advice provided to the council which said that a review could only be expected where “significant adverse effects have been identified that were not identified at the time the consents were granted or where it has become apparent that the conditions of consent do not provide proper control of the activity”.
The expert technical analysis found the weight of evidence “does not support the hypothesis that significant adverse lake shore effects are occurring as a result of the management of lake levels by MRP”, Mr Sinclair’s decision said.
The regional council will continue managing foreshore erosion issues at Lake Taupo under the Lake Taupo Erosion and Flood Strategy, alongside key partners such as Taupo District Council and Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board.
This strategy - which has concluded there are multiple factors contributing to foreshore erosion, including lake levels – has identified seven key work areas to address flooding and erosion issues around the foreshore.
These include physical works (such as shoreline protection structures), maintenance of works, monitoring, planning, river catchment and sediment management, education and awareness, and activities such as warning systems and emergency response procedures.
For more information on the strategy visit http://www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/Services/Regional-services/Regional-hazards-and-emergency-management/Lake-Taupo-Erosion-and-Flood-Strategy/