Hydro Plan Faces Environmental Challenge

An organization proposing to build a hydro-electric power system on the Gowan River has been unsuccessful in challenging an environmental protection order. The High Court at Blenheim has rejected an application by the Motueka-based Majac Trust for a water conservation order for the Buller River and its tributaries to be set aside.

BLENHEIM, New Zealand 2002-03-22 [SolarAccess.com] The trust is made up of Talley’s Fisheries director Michael Talley, Talley’s Fisheries company secretary James Ryder, Motueka accountant Guy Mannering and Nelson lawyer Graeme Malone. It applied for a resource consent to build a hydro system on the upper Gowan River, on land it has owned since 1997, which would require diverting some of the river’s flow to generate electricity. But the trust’s proposal would require diverting more water than the conservation order allows, above a certain flow. In the High Court hearing last month, the trust challenged the long delay in setting and implementing the water conservation order, which it said was unreasonable. It also argued that a condition, which limits how much the flow of the Gowan River can be altered, should be taken out of the order. It said the Gowan had been included in the order because it was considered an outstanding amenity for rafting, but the upper abstraction limit set for it was not necessary to safeguard rafting. But Justice Ronald Young said in a recent written decision that while the order process was slow – taking five years from the time it was recommended until the time it was implemented last year – it was also complex. He noted the trust had only advised the Environment Minister of its interest in the order in July 2000, so was not overly affected by the delay. It should have been aware of the draft order when it bought the land, he said.
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