Meridian gets interim approval for Waitaki power scheme

Meridian Energy has received interim approval for its application to take water from the Waitaki River for its $900 million north bank power scheme.

The Otago Daily Times has been told it is an interim decision, which grants a water-only resource consent but is subject to agreement on conditions.

Meridian applied to ECan to take up to 260cumecs from the lower Waitaki River above the Waitaki dam for a 34km tunnel between the dam and Stonewall, near Ikawai.

A single powerhouse would generate between 1100 and 1400GWh of electricity a year.

The company’s plans for a power scheme on the Lower Waitaki began several years ago with Project Aqua which would have built a canel on the south bank. However, that was abandoned before it an application for resource consent was made.

Meridian then began investigations into the north bank scheme which has received objections from conservation and recreation groups and people with existing use rights, including irrigators.

The approval could be appealed to the Environment Court and the company still has to apply to the Waimate District Council for a land-use consent.

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