The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) says the government's refusal to use its call-in powers for proposed new power
stations indicate it is not prepared to "walk the talk" when it comes to climate change.
The Minister for the Environment, Marian Hobbs, has refused a request from EDS to call-in three proposed new power
stations, a procedure under the Resource Management Act (RMA) that would have allowed thorough consideration of the
national implications of the proposal.
EDS's climate change manager, Garry Law, said that he was "very surprised" at the decision.
“The Minister for the Environment has the power under the RMA to call-in proposals of national significance and in
particular ones which affect New Zealand's international obligations to the global environment. An expert panel would
then hear the consents with broader jurisdiction than regional councils.
"The Stratford combined cycle plant was subject to the call-in process early in the 1990s.
"The three new plants fit squarely into those statutory criteria. In fact there could not be better fit. There is a
disconnect here between what the Government is saying internationally and what it is allowing to happen domestically.
"Power stations powered by natural gas have the potential to completely blow New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emission
target. These are base load stations – they are being built to run most of the time.
“If they are all built they will together have the potential to emit 3.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into
the atmosphere. That is a 5.3% blowout on our Kyoto Protocol target of getting total emissions back to 1990 level.
“The first two up (Contact Energy and Genesis) are both claiming they will reduce emissions by avoiding them from less
efficient plants like Huntly, but in total emissions from these two exceed the actual emissions from Huntly that have
occurred in the recent past.
"If the demand for electricity increases we could have a situation where these new plants are running as well as the old
"If the applications had been called-in, we would be able to look at conditions relating to closure of older plants or
at carbon offsets such as forest plantings. This is very difficult to do without call-in when the old power stations and
the likely locations of offset forests are located across regional council boundaries.
"Two proposed plants, both 400MW stations proposed by Contact Energy Limited and Genesis Power Limited, have reached the
stage of consent applications. The hearing of the Contact consents is scheduled for later this month. Another two, a
400MW station by the Natural Gas Corporation and a further 80MW station by Contact Energy, are in prospect.
"EDS is very supportive of the government's stance on climate change but it must walk the talk.
"The Ministry for the Environment is not even a submitter on the Contact consents.
"We have read the reasons for her decision and they are entirely unconvincing. The government cannot rely on
non-statutory policy documents to control the market.
"We simply do not understand why Marian Hobbs would not agree to exercise her call-in powers and we are extremely
disappointed," Mr Law concluded.
Environmental Defence Society
EDS is a not-for-profit environmental organisation committed to improving environmental outcomes within New Zealand.
The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) is a professionally run, independent environmental group that was established in
1971. It brings together the disciplines of science, planning, landscape and the law.
MORE ABOUT EDS
It operates as a think-tank, providing thought leadership on key environmental issues as well as representing the
environment before councils and the courts.
EDS is located at the collaborative and business aware end of the environmental movement, seeking constructive
engagement with all sectors, to achieve good environmental and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders. It has
It also plays an education role, helping business, councils, community groups and iwi to better understand best
practice resource management. EDS runs national and regional conferences and seminars on topical issues.
EDS is a registered charity and donations to it are tax-deductible.