Resource consents related to a King Country Energy (KCE) proposal to build a new hydro dam on the Mokau River have been granted by Environment Waikato (EW) and the Waitomo District Council (WDC).
However, the granting of the consents does not mean the dam can now go ahead as that issue still has to be considered by the Environment Court at a date yet to be set.
KCE has previously proposed building a 44 metre high dam on the Mokau some 4.3 kilometres downsteam from the existing Wairere Falls dam.
The proposal was turned down by EW and WDC in 2006. KCE subsequently appealed those decisions to the Environment Court.
In the meantime, the company decided it wanted to change the dam structure from earth and rock fill to concrete and it became apparent that various additional consents would need to be granted to allow for this change, including consent for a new quarry and overburden disposal site, and a concrete batching plant..
The decision released today relates to these various additional consents that would need to be exercised if the dam project eventually gets the go ahead.
KCE’s counsel Kerry Smith told a joint EW-WDC hearings committee that any additional resource consents granted would not be acted on if the appeal to the Environment Court on the overall scheme was unsuccessful.
The additional applications were opposed by a range of parties on various grounds. EW and WDC staff recommended that the additional consents be declined since the original application to build the dam had earlier been declined. Concerns were noted in the staff reports about a lack of certainty concerning the environmental sustainability of some of the proposed works covered by the additional applications.
However, independent commissioners for EW (Jeff Jones and Craig Shearer) and WDC (Phil Mitchell) felt any adverse effects on the environment from the proposed additional works could be avoided, remedied or mitigated through appropriate consent conditions, and as such considered these additional consents could be granted.