5 Nov 2009

Brownlee denies hydro dam gaffe

5:45 am on 5 November 2009

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee is denying Labour Party claims he made a gaffe in remarks about a controversial hydro dam scheme on the West Coast.

Mr Brownlee has delighted conservationists with off-the-cuff comments at a public meeting in Nelson that the Mokihinui scheme in Buller would not go ahead, even though a resource consent decision has still to be made.

Mr Brownlee says his reported comments on Monday are a beat up.

He has also rejected criticism from Labour's energy spokesperson Charles Chauvel that he should not be commenting on energy projects in advance of resource consent decisions.

Mr Brownlee says he was making general comments that big dam projects are unlikely in future.

Mr Brownlee says he has no inside knowledge of Meridian Energy's discussions with the Department of Conservation about the Mokihinui project.

Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society spokesperson Debs Martin says Mr Brownlee told a questioner that the project would not go ahead, adding that was only his view.

She says Mr Brownlee's comments were quite clear.

A decision on the scheme is expected by the end of November.