No more Clutha dams


The grapevine has been saying for several months that Contact Energy no longer wanted land along the Clutha River.

The logical conclusion from that was that the company was giving up its plans to build more dams on the river and that has been confirmed:

The energy company has spent the past three years investigating the options at four sites, Luggate, Beaumont, Queensberry and Tuapeka Mouth.

It says the costs were much higher than the expected $300 million to $1.5 billion per dam, meaning none of the options are viable in the foreseeable future. . .

Other factors contributing to the decision include the unease within communities living along the Clutha and the cost of transmission, including future upgrades of the Cook Strait cable.

The company has bought land along the river. This decision could mean there will be several farms for sale.

The Lazy Dog


Sometimes you get a menu and are scratching to find something that appeals.

This was not the case when we stopped for lunch at The Lazy Dog a couple of weeks ago.

The menu full of tempting dishes,from light snacks to hearty meals. We both chose tomato soup, chunky with olives,  served with fresh bread and accompanied by a glass of pinot noir.

lazy dog 1

The cafe at Queensberry on the Wanaka-Cromwell Road is owned by Dean – a former seal diver and chef in the South African navy – and Diana Harker. It’s also the cellar door for Lochaburn wines.

 The couple leased the cafe at Akarua Winery in Bannockburn before building the Lazy Dog.

The name is part of the story of changing land use. Grape vines now grow where merinos used to graze and the dogs which no longer have to work the sheep grow lazy in the vineyard.

As a poem on the cafe wall explained:

The Old ewe stamps, her sneering eyes

Say, “Now young dog I did advise

You step aside or get a shunt

You’re no tough hound, you are a runt.”

He whines uneasily in his sleep

She’s got him worried, that old sheep.

In dreams as in his waking days

That ewe eats dog as well as hay.


Now vines climb up hill faces steep

They’re farming grapes instead of sheep.

The sheep have gone  (the old ewe too)

There’s nothing for a dog to do.

He’ll go no more through wind and fog,

For now he is a lazy dog.

Contact’s eyeing the Clutha


Contact Energy is investigating more dams on the Clutha River.

Contact Energy’s Wellington-based communications manager Jonathan Hill said the power company was “taking a close look again” at old proposals which had been on the back burner, such as those involving sites at Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry.

… Mr Hill said Contact did not have any firm plans in place and was simply looking at all of its options.

“However, we have a clear preference that any new hydro developments should be on rivers that already have hydro schemes on them, to avoid altering virgin rivers.”

Beaumont, Luggate and Queensberry on the Clutha River had all been proposed as possible sites.

Mr Hill said they were the only river schemes that Contact was actively looking at as the plans had already been drawn up by the previous owner, ECNZ.

“I think its a very important point to make that if we do identify a project that we would like to advance, the first steps will be to discuss it with local communities.

“The role of new, large-scale hydro projects will be particularly important in an environment in which there is growing concern around climate change and sustainability and in which traditional thermal fuels such as gas are becoming increasingly expensive,” he added.

The increase in thermal generation has been a major contributor to the increase in our carbon emissions. But the difficulty of getting through the Resource Management Act makes the development of new wind and hydro generation a long, involved and expensive process.

The Environment Court appeal against Meridian Energy’s  application consent for its Project Hayes windfarm in the Lammermoor Range has been adjourned until January.

Its Project Aqua on the south of the Waitaki River never got to the consent stage but the company is now looking at a scheme on the north bank.

This winter’s power crisis was avoided by conservation measures and timely rainfalls, but at great cost to businesses and the economy.

Conservation measures can only do so much, if we want to be a first world country with a first world economy so we can afford first world social and environmental initiatives, we need first world power supplies and that means more generation.

If the past is any guide there will be fierce oppostion to more dams on the Clutha. But if we have to reduce carbon emissions and nuclear generation is neither popular nor practical then we have to accept more wind and/or hydro schemes.

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