Hans van der Wel looks at the pros and cons of Meridian Energy’s plans for hydro development on the Mokihinui river then asks some very good questions in the wake of the company’s decision to withdraw from the plans.
. . . The intriguing question was if the court would accept whether this would have been enough to make up for some significant environmental loss.
Would it have found that this met the twin aims of the Resource Management Act, of enabling people to provide for their wellbeing through development, and still making sure that key environmental values are maintained?
How would it have weighed the various benefits against the undeniable drawbacks?
How important is providing for locally generated renewable energy to environmental outcomes?
Is it important enough to require some sacrifices to be made to achieve it?
How much can you compensate for the loss of one set of special values by improving others?
Must conservation always trump economic development, or can the two assist each other? . . .
These questions could and should be asked of all development.
We have only one world and looking after it is important but that should not be a moratorium on development.
Any development has consequences, the question is whether when everything is taken into account – economic, environmental and social considerations – the benefits outweigh the costs.