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Marsden B - A bad idea

Page - August 7, 2007
Due to relentless campaigning by Greenpeace and many others, Mighty River Power canned its plan to refire the mothballed Marsden B coal fired power station in March 2007.

Greenpeace activist Gareth Moon after occupying the Marsden B power station abseils down the side of the 50 meter building alongside the banner reading "Save the climate: Stop Coal".

Marsden B coal-fired power station is based on dirty, non-renewable energy. New Zealand doesn't need or want that. We need clean, renewable energy. Greenpeace wants the Marsden B proposal scraped.

Mighty River Power (MRP), a Government owned power company, have applied for consents to discharge an array of toxic chemicals into the land, air and water, as well as huge quantities of carbon dioxide as part of their plans to recommission the old Marsden B power station to run on coal.

If it goes ahead, it would be New Zealand's first major coal-fired power station commissioned in over 25 years. It would be the second station of its kind in the country - the first is Huntly, in the Waikato.

Coal is the dirtiest way to generate electricity producing more carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, than any other fossil fuel. It releases 72% more C02 than gas when burnt.

Scientists and insurance agencies regard climate change as the biggest environmental and economic threat of our time. Yet Mighty River Power plans to build a polluting coal-fired power station when the world's fastest growing energy source is clean, sustainable wind energy.

New Zealand, including Northland where Marsden B is located, has one of the best, yet most underutilised wind resources in the world.

A Government report from 2001 showed that New Zealand has enough wind energy potential to generate three times the amount of electricity it currently produces.

We can move to a truly sustainable energy future if wind energy together with other renewable energy options such as solar, biomass, existing hydro and geothermal, and energy efficiency and conservation measures were implemented within a well designed energy system.

New Zealand has no need for polluting, climate change causing power stations like Marsden B.

Timeline of campaign to stop the development of Marsden B coal-fired power station

October 2004 - Mighty River Power lodge application with Northland Regional Council for resource consent to refire Marsden B power station on coal.

February 2005 - Greenpeace occupies the roof of Marsden B for 9 days, bringing national attention to the issue. Jointly, with local community groups, Greenpeace asks the Minister for the Environment to "call in" the project, so that the government must make a decision on the project. They refuse. The three activists come down on the day submissions close. A record 4000 submissions are received by the court, almost all opposing it.

July-August 2005 - Commissioners acting for the Northland Regional Council hear submissions on the proposal. Greenpeace brings experts from Australia and the USA.

September 2005 - Mighty River Power, a Government owned power company, was granted a resource consent by the Northland Regional Council to build New Zealand's first major coal-fired power station in over 25 years.

October 2005 - Greenpeace and other community groups lodged an appeal to the Environment Court.

February 2006 - Mighty River Power called for proceedings in the overall appeal to be put on hold while it negotiated access to Department of Conservation land.

February 2006 - Mighty River Power submitted to the Environment Court that climate change could not be considered in the overall appeal.

July 2006 - The Environment Court made its decision regarding the relevance of climate change to the overall appeal, saying that climate change is not a relevant consideration that needed to be taken into account when approving Marsden B.

August 2006 - Greenpeace appealed the decision on climate change to the High Court.

September 2006 - Department of Conservation (DOC) issue their interim decision to allow MRP access to DOC land for a coal conveyor for Marsden B.

October 2006 -The High Court overturned the Environment Court decision and said that climate change does need to be considered.

November 2006 - Submissions closed to DOC regarding allowing Mighty River access to DOC land for a coal conveyor belt.

November 2006 - Mighty River Power challenged the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal. Genesis Energy indicated their interest in joining the appeal on Mighty River's side.

January 2007 - The Department of Conservation had its hearing on 30-31 January 2007, to hear submissions on Mighty River's plans to put a dirty-great coal conveyor belt across conservation land. Greenpeace, community groups and individuals made submissions at the hearing. Over 1,400 written submissions were received by DOC and almost all opposed the plan.

March 2007 -  Mighty River Power abandons its coal plans at Marsden B

The overall appeal, including concerns about mercury, dioxin and sulphur dioxide, remains on hold pending Mighty River Power's application for access to DOC land. It is scheduled to recommence in mid 2007.