The extension of the outstanding natural landscape
classification in the Nevis Valley does not rule out a
"carefully designed hydro development" on the Nevis River,
Pioneer Generation says.
The company has plans for a small hydro scheme on the river
and while it has not yet applied for resource consent, it
wants to keep that possibility alive.
The Environment Court is sitting in Queenstown to consider
whether a water conservation order should be amended to
prohibit any damming or diversion of the river. The case has
spanned six days so far and the final evidence will be heard
It was being heard at the same time as an appeal against plan
change 5 in the Central Otago district plan, which related to
the landscape values of the Nevis valley. Some of the valley
was classified as an outstanding natural landscape under the
plan changes and the rest was deemed to be of less value and
listed as a "significant amenity landscape".
The New Zealand Historic Places Trust and Otago Fish and Game
councils objected to the two different classifications and
said the entire valley should be listed as an outstanding
landscape. On Monday, the court was told the parties involved
in that appeal, including the Central Otago District Council
and Pioneer, had reached an agreement the whole valley should
be an outstanding natural landscape (ONL).
Lawyer for the district council, Jayne Macdonald, said a
memorandum would be drawn up and signed by all parties. Judge
Jon Jackson said once that was done, the appeal would be
allowed by consent.
Pioneer asset manager Peter Mulvihill issued a statement
yesterday saying the classification did not prevent a
"carefully designed hydro development".
"There are many examples in Central [Otago] of ONLs with dams
and reservoirs, such as the Upper Manorburn, Lake Onslow and
Butchers Dam, which are a significant feature and an
important part of the landscape. We even have mining
currently occurring on the existing ONL in the Nevis Valley,"
Pioneer was "comfortable" with the change to the boundary of
the outstanding natural landscape classification in the Nevis
The company had already said in any future resource consent
application it would limit the extent of any proposed dam so
impounded water did not go beyond the Nevis Crossing bridge.
Any lake would be about 14ha.
Pioneer owns the leasehold of two farm properties on the
banks of the Nevis River - Ben Nevis and Craig Roy Stations.
Both stations are Crown leases and are going through the
tenure review process.
Mr Mulvihill said the memorandum was consistent with the
tenure review covenants and Pioneer's commitment not to go
above the Nevis Crossing with any dam reservoir.
A fortnight ago, during earlier evidence in the hearing, Mr
Mulvihill said he was confident the dam was a viable
Asked if Pioneer was working with another generator on the
project, he said it was not.