Forest and Bird says a land swap proposed by Meridian Energy is a desperate effort to push through its controversial hydro electric power scheme in Buller, while the company says it makes good sense.
Meridian has offered the Department of Conservation 794 hectares of land in compensation for the 225 hectares it wants to flood for its Mokihinui Dam project.
Forest and Bird spokesperson Debs Martin says it is a last desperate bid before a resource consent hearing into the project resumes in two weeks.
Ms Martin says the hydro scheme would flood a wilderness area of flora and fauna, and the environmental impact is unacceptable.
Meridian spokesperson Claire Shaw believes this would be the first land swap on this scale to be carried out by any energy company.
Ms Shaw says Meridian is trying to find a way to satisfy environmental concerns while getting much-needed power to the West Coast.
She says the company put the proposal to DOC around Christmas and is awaiting the department's response.