Top Energy has been granted consents to expand and build two new geothermal power stations at Ngawha in Northland. The project had faced challenges in the Environmental Court over the environmental impact it would have on the unique features of the area, such as local geothermal pools. These pools are not only a popular tourist attraction but carry cultural significance for local Maori, represented by the kaitiaki of the pools, Parahirahi C1 Trust.
The two groups have reached an agreement which has resulted in the Trust’s withdrawal of challenges to the Environmental Court, meaning construction of the stations are now able to proceed. Top Energy have undertaken not to cause or contribute to any adverse environmental impact on the pools, which will involve supporting scientific audits of the area and an independent monitoring programme.
The first of the new stations are intended to be ready to provide power to the northern regions of the North Island by 2020, picking up the load after coal burning plants at Huntly power station are due to be decommissioned in 2018.
This story serves as a fantastic example of how interests in environmental protection and industrial expansion need not result in conflict when groups show a genuine commitment to listen and address each other’s concerns.