The successful process for renewing consents for the Huntly power station clearly demonstrates that even the biggest resource use issues can be handled locally, says Waikato Regional Council’s resource use and environmental monitoring committee chair.
Cr Lois Livingston was commenting on the outcome of eight consent applications by Genesis Energy to continue running the 1448 megawatt power station.
“Genesis was happy for the applications to be considered locally and neither they nor anyone else requested that the Government call in the applications to put them through a speeded up, centralised process,” said Cr Livingston. She noted that the process was completed in six months compared with the national call-in process that allows nine months for a decision.
“The consent applications were publicly notified by the regional council and we received a range of submissions from various parties ahead of a planned public hearing in the Waikato.
“Subsequently we, Genesis and the other parties to the hearing have been able to deal with all the issues raised and the applications did not have to be considered at a public hearing.
“Everyone was spared the time, expense and uncertainty involved in such a hearing. This shows what can be achieved by all parties working together co-operatively,” said Cr Livingston.
The council’s energy programme manager Mark Brockelsby said the consents enable a further 25 years of operation of the power station, which is crucial to New Zealand’s security of electricity supply. “At the same time the consents ensure the maintenance and safeguarding of high environmental standards at the plant.”
The specific consents include discharges to air, taking and discharging water to the Waikato River for cooling purposes, and other discharges to land and water of process water and stormwater from the site.
Six submissions were received in response to public notification of the applications. They came from Department of Conservation, Mighty River Power, Fish & Game New Zealand, the Waahi Whaanui Trust, Solid Energy Ltd and Watercare Services Ltd.
Genesis undertook a process of engagement with these parties following the close of submissions and successfully resolved their concerns.