Wairau Hydro Scheme - Background
TrustPower announced its proposed Wairau Valley Hydroelectric Power Scheme in February 2003, following a year of detailed investigation.
Following the announcement of the scheme independent experts were commissioned to investigate and report on the environmental and other impacts of the proposed scheme to ensure that it would be sustainable, efficient and technically robust. As a result of their studies, the experts recommended changes to the proposed scheme, including a reduction in water take and increased minimum river flows specifically targeted to protect the bird population on the river, and these recommendations were incorporated in a revised proposal announced in April 2004.
In addition to these investigations TrustPower began an extensive consultation process encompassing meetings with individuals, groups and, via public meetings, the residents of the Wairau Valley and the wider community. The purpose of this consultation was to provide information about the proposal and gain a good understanding and appreciation of the concerns of local residents and groups.
TrustPower lodged a Resource Consent application for the Wairau Valley Hydroelectric Power Scheme with the Marlborough District Council in July 2005. A hearing on the Resource Consents for the proposed scheme was heard by a committee of three independent members appointed by the Marlborough District Council, between June and December 2006.
Following this hearing the committee issued an interim decision supporting the proposed scheme. A draft set of Resource Consents were then issued by the committee and circulated to interested parties including the Marlborough District Council, submitters and TrustPower.
A hearing into the draft consent conditions was held in early 2008 in Blenheim, allowing all individuals and groups who made submissions to be heard. In July 2008, the final Resource Consents were issued.
These Consents were appealed to the Environment Court by seven parties. TrustPower reached agreement with four of these appellants before the commencement of the hearing leaving TrustPower, Fish and Game, Save the Wairau Incorporated and a small number of 274 parties (individuals or groups who didn't appeal on their own but took an interest in and joined one of the existing appeals) to participate.
The Environment Court hearing concluded in May 2010 and in November 2010 the Environment Court confirmed the resource consents for the scheme.