Greens seek lignite plant submission process

The Green Party is calling for public notification - which would allow for submissions - on Solid Energy's proposal to build a lignite conversion briquetting plant near Mataura, in Southland, for up to $25 million.

Green Party lignite spokesperson Gareth Hughes yesterday said Solid Energy had applied to the Gore District Council for a resource consent, regarding noise impacts of the briquette plant, and the council was today due to decide if the hearing would be open to public submissions.

"It [the briquette plant] will have a significant impact on local roads, there will be pollution impacts on the local citizens, and more broadly this will be disastrous for climate change," Mr Hughes said.

He said climate change impacts could not form part of a resource consent, leaving a "gaping hole in New Zealand's resource management legislation".

"The public should be able to submit on the broad, negative environmental and economic impacts of the proposal," he said.

Mr Hughes' call came a day after a draft of the Government's energy strategy was mistakenly published online, ahead of its approval by Cabinet, revealing the Government wants to expand oil and coal sectors, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Mr Hughes described the energy strategy as "incoherent and backwards looking" saying the Government was neglecting its responsibility to plan for a sustainable energy future.

"That's why it's essential that the public have input on significant energy projects like this one," Mr Hughes said.

While the Government energy strategy reaffirmed its commitment to a target of achieving 90% renewable energy production by 2025, Mr Hughes yesterday said the country did not need to exploit substandard coal [lignite] when we have "a wealth of smart green energy opportunities that will deliver real prosperity".

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