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Anglers and kayakers could still enjoy the Nevis River if a hydro-electric scheme went ahead, the Nevis tribunal was told yesterday.
Leisure and open-space consultant, Rob Greenaway, of Nelson, said white-water kayaking and angling would remain an option if an "appropriately designed" hydro-electric scheme was in place on the river.
A special tribunal, appointed by the Ministry for the Environment, has been sitting in Cromwell to consider 248 submissions on a proposal to amend the Water Conservation Order on the river.
The New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game Councils have sought tighter protection on the river, including a ban on damming or diverting the flow.
Power company Pioneer Generation is one of the organisations that have opposed the changes.
The existing order allows for the possibility of damming, and Pioneer, which has plans for a hydro-electric scheme on the river, wants to retain that option.
Mr Greenaway was an expert witness for Pioneer and said he had worked for private companies, local and central government and environmental and community agencies.
He had worked on recreation research or development planning projects on 21 rivers, and his reviews covered all forms of outdoor recreation.
He was also a kayaker but was not a whitewater paddler; he preferred surf-kayaking.
"An important consideration will be the effect of a scheme on the landscape setting of the Nevis River," Mr Greenaway said.
Although there would be structures on the river, if they were well designed and sympathetic to the setting, the Nevis River would still have elements of a rural natural setting.
The Nevis was part of a "nationally significant network of high grade kayaking rivers", but there was the potential to retain the white-water option to a large extent even if a hydro-electric scheme went ahead, he said.
One of the scheme options being considered by Pioneer was a small run-of-river scheme with a small intake reservoir, tunnel, power station and penstock, which would have only minor effects on the angling amenity, Mr Greenaway said.
The existing kayaking option on the lower Nevis could be retained if there were minimal restrictions on access and a programme of recreational releases of water at certain times, he said.
Nevis river hearing
Yesterday: Evidence heard from ecologist Gregory Ryder, leisure consultant and open-space planner Rob Greenaway, hydrological consultant Dave Stewart and archaeologist Angela Middleton.
Quote of the day: "Effects on angling activity as a result of a hydro-electric scheme would relate predominantly to aquatic ecology issues, and a backcountry angling experience could be maintained." - Rob Greenaway.