16 Apr 2009

Final submissions on West Coast dam project

6:06 am on 16 April 2009

Opponents of a hydro dam project which Meridian Energy is seeking consent to build on the West Coast say the company has once again failed to prove the scheme will not be environmentally damaging.

A resource consent hearing wraps up in Westport on Thursday, after which commissioners will decide whether to approve or decline the controversial project to dam the Mokihinui River north of Westport.

The scheme's opponents say the resource commissioners have the most important hydro electric power decision to make since Project Aqua on the Waitaki River was rejected five years ago.

Meridian describes the scheme as vital for the current and future power needs of the West Coast.

Any environmental impacts will be minor, the company says, and it would be able to mitigate any effects on flora and fauna in the Mokihinui Gorge.

The Department of Conservation objects to the proposed dam as unsuitable for an area it describes as of outstanding natural landscape.