Media release

Media release: ORC initiates review of Contact Energy’s Clyde consent conditions | Otago Regional Council

Wednesday 24 August 2022

The Otago Regional Council formally notified Contact Energy yesterday that aspects of its Clyde hydro scheme consents are to be reviewed.

ORC’s General Manager Regulatory and Communications, Richard Saunders, says every five years the ORC has a three-month period in which to notify Contact Energy of its intent to review consent conditions. This process is set out in Section 128 of the Resource Management Act and there are also conditions included within the resource consents.

ORC staff sent Contact Energy a formal “notice to review’’ yesterday, and Councillors were advised of the decision this afternoon.

Mr Saunders says the scope of the review is “very narrow” and is looking only at conditions relating to the Landscape and Visual Amenity Management Plan.

“We believe there is an opportunity to provide greater clarity to all parties about the expectations of what is to be included in the plan and the process by which it is updated and approved,” he says.

Contact Energy has acknowledged receipt of the “notice to review”.


Full audit of all Contact’s hydro consents

In addition to the S128 review, ORC is continuing with a full audit of all Contact’s hydro-electricity related-consents.

This audit may identify additional adverse effects not currently mitigated through the conditions of consent, Mr Saunders says. Further investigations will be undertaken as required and used to inform the assessment of whether a further S128 review is required, in 2027.

“We acknowledge there are a number of questions raised around the current Clutha hydro-electricity scheme.

Further evidence is required before ORC could consider a broader review of the scheme,” he says.

Further details on the S128 review process are still to be finalised.

However, ORC will provide updates to key stakeholders as the review progresses, he says.

Mr Saunders acknowledges recent concerns raised in the local community around the possible review of consents and says it will be “at least a month”, before a decision is made on the extent of any public input into the review process.

In late-June Contact submitted an updated Landscape and Visual Amenity Management Plan (LVAMP) to the ORC, which detailed how it would manage any effects on the Kawerau Arm of Lake Dunstan.

Subsequent to this process, a meeting was held to discuss the contents of the Landscape Management Plan.

“The ORC recognises positive progress was made when we met recently with Contact Energy, Central Otago District Council and the Lake Dunstan Charitable Trust to discuss the LVAMP. This [discussion] process between parties should continue, in parallel with the review,” Mr Saunders says.


Specifics of the current “notice to review”

Both the Clyde Dam and Roxburgh Dam consents will be reviewed, while no need was found to review the Lake Hāwea consents.

The review will look into the potential adverse effects of the following issues:

  • Visual amenity aspects of driftwood
  • Lagrosiphon and the role of Contact Energy in monitoring and management
  • Management of algae, sediments and weeds during lower flows
  • Access to jetties and boat ramps
  • Lower Manuherekia gravel extraction

Additionally it will consider the following process issues for the development and approval of the LVAMP.

  • The addition of performance criteria or standards within the plan
  • Clearer direction on consultation during development
  • Clarity on what matters the plan should address