2004 – The Importance of Community Consultation in Geotechnical Investigations for Project Aqua

Don Macfarlane; Nick Eldred; Sigi Keis

Project Aqua was planned to be a major hydropower development along the lower Waitaki Valley, New Zealand. Geotechnical investigations for the project were conducted in two main stages – from the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s, and again in the period from 2002 to 2004.

Community consultation was an important part of the 2002-2004 investigations, and was a key risk management issue for Meridian Energy. The proposed scope of the work included 512 drillholes and 734 test pits spread along the 60km project corridor. All proposed drillholes and test pits were subject to the Resource Management Act 1991 and needed Resource Consent applications, which required consultation with landowners, territorial authorities, and community and cultural groups including three Maori tribes.

A number of proposed investigations could not be undertaken because the landowner would not allow land access, but over 70% of the proposed work was completed with community support.

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