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Meridian CEO attends save Mokihinui meeting

Meridian Energy's chief executive made a surprise appearance today at a Green Party meeting in Wellington protesting his company's plan to dam the West Coast's Mokihinui River.Tim Lusk stood up and introduced himself at the beginning of the meeting, sayin

NZPA
Thu, 23 Sep 2010

Meridian Energy's chief executive made a surprise appearance today at a Green Party meeting in Wellington protesting his company's plan to dam the West Coast's Mokihinui River.

Tim Lusk stood up and introduced himself at the beginning of the meeting, saying he wanted to "understand and learn".

State-owned Meridian received resource consent in April for its planned 85-metre high dam and power station, northeast of Westport, which will create a 14km-long lake and inundate public conservation land.

Several groups have lodged appeals with the Environment Court, including the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Forest and Bird.

At least 60 people attended the lunchtime meeting, a joint initiative between Green Party MP Kevin Hague and landscape photographer Craig Potton.

That included National MPs Chris Tremain and Paul Hutchison, Labour's Pete Hodgson and Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.

The meeting opened with a screening of a Coast documentary, Tale of Two Rivers, which compared Meridian's scheme with private company Hydro Developments Ltd's (HDL) planned hydro scheme for Stockton, near Westport.

HDL's scheme, which also has consent, is under appeal by state-owned miner Solid Energy.

An episode from Mr Potton's television series, Rivers, featuring the Mokihinui, also screened before a question and answer session with Mr Hague.

Mr Hague told the group Meridian's scheme was "entirely redundant" as the Coast would have enough power generation with HDL's scheme and TrustPower's Arnold scheme.

He and Mr Potton were to embark on a nationwide tour to inform people about Meridian's scheme, he said.

"We are not going to stop until the scheme is abandoned," said Mr Hague.

Mr Lusk told NZPA Meridian's hydro proposal was still "very early in the process".

"There are several things that occurred to me as I listened (during the meeting). I don't think Meridian needs to be the natural enemy of the people who believe very strongly in the environment because that's part of our brand that's very important to us."

Mr Lusk said he shared a love of the environment just like anyone else in the meeting.

Mr Hague said he was impressed Mr Lusk had attended the meeting considering most people in the room were strongly against Meridian's scheme.

However Mr Lusk would soon be in a "nation full of people who are opposing the plan", he said.

He was pleased politicians from Labour and National had attended.

"Part of what we need to do is build a political consensus that this (the Mokihinui scheme) is the wrong thing to be doing and how we can avoid this stupid situation in the future," he said.

NZPA
Thu, 23 Sep 2010
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Meridian CEO attends save Mokihinui meeting
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