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Trampers back kayakers opposed to dam

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/10/2016

Trampers are adding their weight to opposition to a power scheme on a West Coast river that has already upset kayakers.

Local electricity company Westpower wants to build a 16-20MW scheme on the Waitaha River, between Hokitika and Franz Josef, to supply up to a quarter of the Coast's power needs, or enough for about 12,000 homes.

Whitewater NZ last week said the dam will ruin a unique kayaking gorge and pristine waterway.

The Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand (FMC) says the plan has been developed with the best of intent but it's inconsistent with the recreational values of the river and the protection of the wider area under the Conservation Act.

The organisation representing trampers says it "stands behind Whitewater NZ and its staunch advocacy on behalf of kayakers".

"They are a recreational group that have lost too much already. FMC calls on the DOC to recognise their duty to foster this form of recreation for future generations."

Electricity supply can be sourced both locally and nationally outside of conservation areas and DOC should decline the concession application, FMC says.

With a tunnel diverting water to a powerhouse on the flat, it would be the largest hydro scheme on the Coast.

Westpower says it will benefit the local community.

It lodged concession applications with the DOC two years ago, and last month DOC advertised for submissions.

Submissions close on November 14.

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