Environment Waikato and Waikato District Council have granted resource consents to rehabilitate the old Meremere Power Station site.
Genesis Power had applied for consents to excavate and place up to 140,000 cubic metres of clean fill to cap the former coal ash disposal areas and discharge stormwater. The applications attracted six submissions to Waikato District Council from Department of Conservation, Tainui, Transpower New Zealand, Waikato District Health Board, Waikato Raupatu Trustee Company and Watercare Services Ltd.
Ten submissions were made to Environment Waikato from some of the same submitters, Tranz Rail and Fish and Game New Zealand.
The applicant intends to cap the ash disposal area using clay from a small hill at the eastern end of the site, topsoil and grass the capped land and fill and reinstate the coal bunker with fill material and crushed rubble from the demolition of the station buildings.
Submitters had concerns that the applicant had not made all the necessary applications for such a proposal, and that the site would be left in a condition inconsistent with Waikato District Plan zoning. While old industrial sites should be rehabilitated, the standard should ensure the long-term protection of the environment and the Waikato River, they said.
Both Councils approved the consents, saying using clean fill was in accordance with the Waikato District Plan, and any adverse environmental effects from traffic, noise and appearance were minor and could be mitigated to ensure the surrounding community was not affected.
Environment Waikato said the proposed rehabilitation was acceptable and environmental effects were no more than minor. Capping the ash would improve the quality of discharges while excavating and removing the ash would cost between $15 and 30 million, as well as disturbing more ash contaminants into the environment.
The Committee said that considering the site’s history, contaminants, potential unknown changes in land use and close proximity of wetlands and rivers, a consent duration of 25 years was appropriate.