New polluting power plant makes mockery of climate change goals

A new gas power plant granted consent today in southern Waikato is a step backwards for New Zealand’s efforts to generate more renewable electricity, the Green Party said today.

“New Zealand is blessed with an abundance of renewable electricity options like solar, geothermal, and wind, so there’s no good reason we should be allowing new power plants that burn fossil fuels in the era of climate change,” Green Party energy and resources spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“It’s irresponsible that climate change could not legally be considered in the consent process for this new power plant when it is likely to increase New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We campaigned against this new polluting power plant and are disappointed in the decision, but we’re not surprised because the environmental rules in the Resource Management Act (RMA) ignore the world’s greatest environmental crisis, climate change.

“Local residents are opposed to this new power plant, mana whenua at nearby Kahotea Marae submitted against it, and over 3,000 people signed an online petition against it.

“The Government has a target for 90% renewable electricity, but it’s standing by while new fossil fuel power plants get built.

“The RMA is broken and until we fix it, consents will keep being granted for new projects that contribute to climate change, without that fact even being on the table,” Mr Hughes said.

Notes:

  • Otorohanga District Council and Waikato Regional Council have today issued consents to Todd Energy subsidiary Nova, to build a 360 MW gas-fired power plant near Otorohanga.
  • The power plant will cover 5.6 hectares with smokestacks up to 25 metres high.
  • Its annual carbon emissions will be roughly 425 kT, equal to 0.52% of New Zealand’s total emissions, according to the Parliamentary Library. That would require 17,000 hectares of trees to offset the climate pollution.
  • The Green Party asked Environment Minister Nick Smith to use the Resource Management Act (RMA) to ‘call in’ this project for a board of inquiry, because its scale and importance for climate change makes it a nationally significant issue.
  • Official papers on this issue, released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act, reveal inconsistencies in the RMA. Nick Smith could have called in the project to be considered by a board of inquiry because of its potential effects on climate change, but then the board of inquiry wouldn’t have been legally allowed to consider the project’s potential effects on climate change. The Ministry for the Environment considers that this contradiction “creates a tension” and calls it a “disjunction”.

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