28 Mar 2009

Genesis wins right to build power station

1:33 pm on 28 March 2009

Genesis Energy has won the right to build a gas-fired power station in Rodney District, north of Auckland.

Independent commissioners acting for Rodney District Council have agreed to create a special thermal-energy generation zone between Helensville and Kaukapakapa for the 480-megawatt project.

Late last year, Auckland Regional Council gave its consent for the power station's water and air emissions. Subsequently, the new government has scrapped a ban on the construction of fossil fuel-burning, power-generation plants.

Genesis Energy says it will look at the conditions of the new zone and consents and wait to see if there are appeals to the Environment Court before beginning work on detailed designs.

Genesis says it still unsure whether it will build the power station. Spokesperson Richard Gordon says the company is pleased to have got this far but is still weighing up its options.

Residents and environment groups are appalled by the decision to change its district plan to allow construction of the plant.

A Kaukapakapa residents' spokesperson, Pip McAlwee, says Genesis admits it does not yet have the gas to run the station, but still allocated $74 million for the three years of planning.

Ms McAlwee says it will be difficult for the small community to raise the money to go to the Environment Court.

Environmental group Forest & Bird says it may take an appeal to the Environment Court - at a cost of up to $100,000.

Spokesperson Susie Phillips says the group is concerned about the possible environmental effects of the power station, including Co2 emissions and discharges of mineral-tainted cooling water into the local river.