The project, proposed for the north bank of the Waitaki River, gained water only consents in August 2010. Meridian is now focused on engaging with landowners and other key stakeholders on a proposed design before seeking further consents to build the scheme.

“The project takes a long term view of the needs and opportunities for the region and the country. We’ll be taking the time to work with others to ensure that we get it right,” said Nick Eldred, Water Infrastructure Development Manager, from Meridian.

Initial technical investigations have revealed some challenges with the rock along the north bank that have prompted reconsideration of the original concept of building a full tunnel scheme. The proposed design involves the middle 13km portion of the hydro scheme being a canal, with the upper and lower sections of the 34km scheme being tunnels. The canal section of the scheme would be sited on privately owned land and hug the hills along the north bank, avoiding communities and major infrastructure.

Meridian is now talking with landowners to identify a possible route for the canal section within a potential corridor, and continuing overall technical investigations for the scheme.

“While the critical factor in progressing the proposed design option is support from landowners, we are committed to engaging with all key stakeholders as part of the process,” said Eldred.

Once constructed, the North Bank Hydro Project will generate 1400GWhrs per annum.