RMA call in for renewable energy projects signalled

  • Trevor Mallard

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard said today that he intends to call in two renewable energy development proposals under the Resource Management Act. These are a geothermal development near Taupo and a wind farm proposal in Hawke’s Bay.

Unison is seeking new resource consents for a 34 turbine wind farm at Te Waka near the Napier-Taupo Road. Contact Energy is seeking consents for a new geothermal power station called Te Mihi which will in time largely replace Wairakei.

"New Zealand's aspiration is to be carbon neutral. To help us get there, the Labour-led government has set targets to have 90 per cent of our electricity generated from renewable sources by 2025 and therefore these proposals are of national significance," Trevor Mallard said.

Under section 141A of the Resource Management Act, the Minister can call in a proposal and direct that the matter is referred to either a Board of Inquiry, or the Environment Court. This means that the matter is decided by either of these two bodies instead of the relevant district, city or regional councils.

"I will not be issuing my direction for call in to councils or publicly notifying the applications until later in January, after the normal holiday period," Trevor Mallard said.

"Following my call in, I intend to appoint a Board of Inquiry to consider and decide the Te Mihi applications. I will be looking for members with the relevant technical skills and an understanding of the local environment.

"I intend to refer the Unison Te Waka proposal to the Environment Court for a decision as it has already considered the previous Te Waka proposal.

"I have considered the views of the councils affected by my decision to intervene. The councils involved have the capacity to process and decide the applications but I consider the proposals should go through the special call in process.

"The applications will be considered in line with the relevant district and regional plans. Local council expertise and processes will be used where possible."