Small dam would not affect landscape

A small hydro-electric power scheme on the Nevis River would not change the distinctive elements that define the landscape of the valley, the Nevis River hearing was told yesterday.

Landscape architect David McKenzie, of Christchurch, said the area's climate and its isolation were the distinctive elements that defined the valley landscape.

Mr McKenzie, who was giving evidence for Pioneer Generation before the special tribunal considering changes to the water conservation order on the Nevis River, said the river was only part of the landscape.

New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game Councils have applied for the conservation order to be amended so damming or diversion of the river is prohibited.

The existing water conservation order would pave the way for the option of a hydro-electricity development on the river.

Power company Pioneer has considered a scheme on the river but has no immediate plans to proceed.

However, it wants to retain the option for hydro development on the Nevis.

Mr McKenzie said the climate, the isolation, and the context of the landscape would not change if Pioneer constructed a small hydro scheme on the river.

A run-of-the-river scheme would affect parts of the lower river only, whereas the two lakes "storage" option would affect parts of the upper and lower sections of the river.

"The lower river is, in many ways, an invisible section of the river as it is accessible only to the fit and the keen," Mr McKenzie said.

If a storage lake was added, as in the second option for hydro development, the upper river would still be scenic but it would be a different scene to that currently viewed.

Consultant biologist Ross Dungey said, depending on the format of the operating regime, the Nevis River should still support a valuable trout resource even if there was a small hydro scheme on the river.

A two-lake hydro scheme option would flood 4km to 5km of river, depending on the scheme design, but would also convert the river angling opportunity to lake angling opportunity.

A one-lake option would have little effect on the trout spawning habitat, he said.

Mr Dungey said Gollum galaxiid fish were widespread in the Nevis River tributaries and were unlikely to be threatened by a hydro scheme.

Day 11

Tribunal: Richard Fowler (chairman), Carolyn Burns and Rauru Kirikiri.

Application: To amend the existing water conservation order to prevent damming or diversion of the Nevis River.

Players: New Zealand and Otago Fish and Game Councils for, Pioneer Generation and TrustPower among those against.

Yesterday: Evidence heard from economic consultant Philip Donnelly, landscape architect David McKenzie and consultant biologist Ross Dungey.

Quote of the day: "Nevis River generation is required in the short to medium term to meet the increased demand and needs of industry and households."


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