FMC sent this press release to media on Monday 11, Mar 2019 to support the efforts to preserve the values of Griffin Creek. The introductory summary is;
Federated Mountain Clubs says no further hydro development should be green-lighted for Griffin Creek, a nationally-significant canyoning site in the Westland district’s Wanganui-Otira Catchments Conservation Area.
Variation of an existing concession granted to Griffin Creek Hydro Limited (later partnered by New Zealand Energy Limited) should not be granted by the Department of Conservation, or should at least be publicly notified because:
- it would have a severe negative impact on Griffin Creek, an exceptional canyoning site, by nearly dewatering it.
- it would more than double the presently-allowed abstraction rate from 1,200 litres per second to 2,500 litres per second and drop the presently-allowed residual flow from 800 litres per second to 456 litres per second.
- it would be abrasive to the Conservation Act, which obliges the Department of Conservation to manage the land for conservation purposes. The Conservation Act says the activity shouldn’t be allowed if it is already adequately provided elsewhere or could occur elsewhere with fewer negative impacts, which it is, and which it could.
- Griffin Creek is in the Wanganui-Otira Catchments Conservation Area, which is stewardship land, public conservation land whose values have not yet been properly assessed. The land may be of sufficient value for inclusion in the adjacent Arthur’s Pass National Park.
- It comes as part of a broader scenario of hydro development on West Coast stewardship land, a trend that FMC sees as ad hoc and opportunistic, largely unnecessary, in varying degrees harmful to conservation and recreation values, and abrasive to conservation law.