The Environment Court has confirmed water use consents for a proposed hydro scheme on the lower Waitaki River in South Canterbury.
Meridian Energy's North Bank Tunnel concept will take water from the river and pipe it through a tunnel with turbines, returning it to the river 34km downstream.
It would generate between 1100 and 1400 gigawatt hours of electricity each year.
The Lower Waitaki Management Society appealed against the scheme, due to its impact on the river and the wildlife.
But an Environment Court decision has confirmed the 35-year consents to take and use water for the project.
The ruling includes conditions aimed at minimising the scheme's environmental impact.
The society says it is pleased the plan must now include some measures to protect native wildlife.
Further consents are required before the hydro scheme can be built.