15 Sep 2009

Lone hydro objector 'holding region to ransom'

8:43 pm on 15 September 2009

Energy company Trustpower says the last objector to a hydro-electricity scheme on the West Coast is holding the region to ransom.

The Environment Court has allowed an appeal against the $185 million scheme on the Arnold River by local artist Johnny Groome on the issue of the minimum river flow needed to sustain fishing.

Trustpower community relations manager Graeme Purches says the majority of the region supports the project and it is unfortunate that just one person can stand in the way.

No hearing date has been set, but Mr Purches says a backlog in the Environment Court means the project will be delayed at least another six months.

Mr Groome, who lives near Greymouth, will not discuss the details of his appeal but says he is doing all he can to stop the project because of his long association with the Arnold River.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says Mr Groome is holding up a desperately needed power system for the region just because he can.

But Fish and Game believes Mr Groome deserves to be taken seriously.

The organisation's West Coast manager, Chris Tonkin, says it is Mr Groome's right under the Resource Management Act to appeal if he believes he is on to something he can defend in the Environment Court.

Mr Tonkin says Fish and Game had similar concerns but has been satisfied by an agreement to set strict river flow conditions.