2001 – Planning for Existing Hydro Generation Facilities Under the Resource Management Act 1991 – The Contact Energy Experience

Neil Gillespie, Chris Hansen

With the introduction of the Resource Management Act in 1991, two significant changes have meant a complete review has been necessary of the planning provisions for hydro generation facilities in plans prepared under the new legislation.

Firstly, the Resource Management Act 1991 introduced an ‘effects’ based approach to planning, as opposed to an ‘activity’ based approach that existed under the previous Town & Country Planning Act 1977. Secondly, the planning mechanisms available to hydro generators to provide for their facilities changed.

Contact Energy Ltd (Contact) is a significant hydropower generator based in Central Otago. The new Regional and District Plans prepared under the Resource Management Act 1991 now contain provisions controlling activities previously provided for by way of a designation. Contact has invested considerable time and effort into the plan preparation process to ensure their activities are not unduly restricted by the new plans.

This conference paper provides an overview of the changes to the planning associated with hydropower generation facilities, and Contact’ s experience in the plan preparation process.

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