So this week our Minister of Mining and Damming (aka Energy and Resources) let slip that the Mokihinui hydro-dam “would not go ahead”. Does he know something or was it just his ‘opinion’? Whatever the brain-burp was, he was ill-advised to say it when he has no direct decision-making power. However, it’d be nice to think that there may be Moki fans in Government – perhaps they are closet readers of the 1400-fan facebook page!
The Wild Rivers campaign was stoked to hear it – they’ve only just launched and the Mokihinui is a prominent precedent-setting proposal to destroy a river ranked seven in the country for natural values.
Here at the Greens we’ve certainly done heaps in and out of Parliament to tackle the threat to this premiere wild river. Our Co-leader Metiria Turei rafted it last year to check it out first hand. The Greens firmly oppose damming irreplaceable wild rivers like the Mokihinui – it’s unnecessary for energy supply, and it’s conservation sacrilege.
Peter Dunne welcomed Brownlee’s ‘burp’, perhaps inspired by the hunting lobby being members of the Wild River campaign. Labour slapped Brownlee down for his indiscretion. However, Charles Chauvel seemed to imply that Brownlee should be damming the river, without actually saying as much – or at least that’s how I interpret his three paragraph “secondly” point. Well Mr Chauvel, I recommend you read the Wild Rivers campaign information – it’s clear we don’t need to dam rivers to have a renewable energy future. Maybe I’ve misread him.
Anyway, I digress. So what does Brownlee know? While most media and comments have focused on the fact he shouldn’t interfere in the RMA consenting process – for which a decision is imminent, and will probably be appealed to the Environment Court either way – they’ve overlooked that there are two ticks required for this terrible project. Apart from the RMA, the dam requires a concession under the Conservation Act because it is on public conservation land.
And in this case, Meridian has offered a dodgy land-swap as I wrote here earlier this week.
Brownlee sits around the Cabinet table with Groser – indeed they’re holding hands in the rush to mine National Parks – and may well know something about the concession and landswap. I guess we’ll find out one day. Here’s hoping they’ve seen the dam proposal for what it is, a sacrifice of permanent, public natural capital for temporary, private physical capital – irreversible and not renewable at all.
If the dam does get approved contrary to Brownlee’s brain-burp, I’ll be the first to hop down to the river to stare down a bulldozer, if my minders will let me…