The local impacts of new polluting power plant

The view towards Mt Pirongia from a home that will be affected by the proposed power plant
The view towards Mt Pirongia from a home that will be affected by the proposed power plant

Today I met with locals living rurally near Otorohanga, south Waikato, who will be affected by Nova Energy’s plan to build a new 360MW gas-fired power station. In a bit of a tag team, James Shaw asked questions in Parliament about the same thing

I travelled up there because I wanted to assess the site and speak to the people who will be affected. We stood on the deck of one house and looked across a beautiful rural landscape with Mount Pirongia in the distance. Smack bang in the middle of the view this couple has enjoyed for 36 years would be large complex to house the turbines, transmission wires strung off into the distance, and 20m high towers.

It was disturbing to hear they felt they didn’t have the information they needed on serious issues like noise, air, and dust pollution. They reported receiving different answers from Nova. I hope Nova can up its game and communicate clearly and transparently with these local landowners who just want to be able to enjoy their beautiful home.

I also wanted to meet to discuss my concerns around building a new fossil fuel power station and the impact on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. The country has committed to reducing emissions, so it’s a surprise Nova is applying to burn more fossil fuels when we have a wealth of positive clean energy solutions available. The plant is estimated to release around 425,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. To give a sense of the size, it would take 16,989 hectares of new forest planted to offset that, over the 20 year life of the planet.

It was a privilege to meet these lovely people and while they will be able to make a submission on the consent application, 99.99% of Kiwis won’t. That’s because it’s a “limited notification” application so only close neighbours get to have a say. Even then, climate change cannot be properly considered under the Resource Management Act.

Please support the Green Party’s call to the Environment Minister to “call it in” so that the climate change impacts can be considered, by signing our open letter.