Marsden B power station

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Marsden B is a moth-balled oil-fired 250 megawatt power station at Marsden Point, Ruakaka, Northland, New Zealand. The plant was originally conceived as a 500 megawatt plant comprising 2 x 250 megawatt plants burning waste oil from the nearby Marsden Point Oil Refinery.[1] The plant was never commissioned and, in response to rising oil prices, was mothballed in 1979.[2]

In 2003 Mighty River Power proposed the plant be converted to being a coal-fired power station. However, a strong campaign including legal action resulted in the proposal being abandoned. In 2009, Mighty River Power sold the plant for $20 million to an Indian company, United Telecom. Resource consents for dismantling the plant were granted in June 2011, and the 20,000 tonnes of plant and equipment was dismantled later in 2011.[3][4]

Genesis of the proposal

The original power station was conceived of and built as an oil-fired plant in the 1970's. However, by the time it was completed in the early 1980's, oil prices had risen substantially and cheaper alternatives were available in the hydroelectric generation of the South Island. As a result Marsden B was never commissioned. (It was to be a brother station to Marsden A and built next to it on the same site.)

A program of extended maintenance was undertaken with the major components being "preserved" with anti-rust chemical coatings and regular inspection. This "mothballing" was put into place as an economy measure should demand ever make its use an economical proposition. At various times equipment was removed and relocated to other power stations around the country. The exhaust chimneys for both stations were brought down after partial dismantling of Marsden A.

The plant has recently gained notoriety because the state owned enterprise Mighty River Power has proposed refiring Marsden B on coal. This revived a 1970s proposal, and would require the construction of a branch line railway, the Marsden Point Branch, to carry in the quantity of coal required.[5] The proposal drew record numbers of submissions mostly in opposition. Greenpeace New Zealand staged an occupation of the site in 2005[6]

Timeline of the Marsden B's Rises and Falls

  • June 2003: Mighty River Power announces that, following a "positive engineering report on the state of the plant" it was seeking the necessary permits to open the plant as an oil-fired "dry year reserve plant". Following the rebuff, Mighty River Power came to view the mothballed plant as having "considerable potential" as a "low cost coal-fired power station".[7] The New Zealand government subsequently rejected the proposal.[8]
  • August 2004: Mighty River Power announces the start of a public consultation process as part of seeking resource consents for a coal-fired generation plant at its Marsden Point site.[9]
  • October 2004: Mighty River Power lodge application with Northland Regional Council for resource consent to refire Marsden B power station on coal.
  • February 2005: Greenpeace occupies the roof of Marsden B for 9 days, bringing national attention to the issue.[10][11][12][13][14][15] Jointly, with local community groups, Greenpeace asks the Minister for the Environment to "call in" the project, so that the government must make a decision on the project.[16] They refuse. The three activists come down on the day submissions close.[17] A record 4000 submissions are received by the court, almost all opposing it. (Mighty River Power subsequently attempted to sue the four activists for their occupation of the roof.[18]
  • July - August 2005: Commissioners acting for the Northland Regional Council hear submissions on the proposal. Greenpeace brings experts from Australia and the United States.[19][20] Greenpeace release documents revealing that Northland Regional Council had sought a supportive submission from the Government "that clearly outlines the national context to power generation and the place of the Marsden B project."[21]
  • September 2005: Mighty River Power, a Government owned power company, was granted a resource consent by the Northland Regional Council to reopen the power station as a coal-fired plant. It is the first major coal-fired power station in New Zealand for over 25 years.[22]
  • October 2005: Greenpeace and other community groups lodged an appeal to the Environment Court.[23] Mighty River also appealed against some of the conditions.[24]
  • February 2006: Mighty River Power called for proceedings in the overall appeal to be put on hold while it negotiated access to Department of Conservation (DOC) land.
Mighty River Power submitted to the Environment Court that climate change could not be considered in the overall appeal.
  • July 2006: The Environment Court made its decision regarding the relevance of climate change to the overall appeal, saying that climate change is not a relevant consideration that needed to be taken into account when approving Marsden B.[25]
Mighty River Power seek costs against Greenpeace over their Environment Court appeal.[27]
  • September 2006: DOC issue their interim decision to allow Mighty River Power access to DOC land for a coal conveyor for Marsden B.
  • October 2006: The High Court overturned the Environment Court decision and said that climate change does need to be considered.[28]
  • November 2006: Submissions closed to DOC regarding allowing Mighty River access to DOC land for a coal conveyor belt.
Mighty River Power appealed the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal. Genesis Energy indicated their interest in joining the appeal on Mighty River's side.
  • January 2007: The Department of Conservation hearing on 30-31 January 2007, to hear submissions on Mighty River's plans to put a coal conveyor belt across conservation land. Greenpeace, community groups and individuals made submissions at the hearing.[29] Over 1,400 written submissions were received by DOC and almost all opposed the plan.
  • March 2007: Mighty River Power abandons its coal plans at Marsden B.[30][31][32]

Articles and Resources


  1. Anysley Kellow, "Transforming Power: The Politics of Electricity Planning", Cambridge University Press, 1996.
  2. "Mighty River Power receives positive report on Marsden B", Media Release, June 13, 2003.
  3. Mike Barrington, "Marsden B power station set for India", The Northern Advocate, June 14, 2011.
  4. Mike Barrington,"Power station India-bound",The Northern Advocate, September 18, 2011.
  5. Geoffrey B. Churchman and Tony Hurst, The Railways of New Zealand: A Journey Through History (Auckland: HarperCollins, 1991), 100.
  6. Greenpeace activists on their second day at their rooftop occupation camp on the Marsden B power station in Ruakaka. They are protesting against Mighty River Power's proposal to convert the plant into a coal fired powerstation that would pump up to 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This would nearly double New Zealand's carbon dioxide emissions from coal.
  7. "Mighty River Power receives positive report on Marsden B", Media Release, June 13, 2003.
  8. Rob Challinor and Doug Heffernan, Board and Chief Executive Report", Mighty River Power Annual Report 2004, August 25, 2004, pages 20-21.
  9. "Consultation to commence at Marsden Point", Media Release, August 18, 2004.
  10. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Kyoto kicks off coal condemnation and occupation at Marsden B", Media Release, February 16, 2005.
  11. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Greenpeace outlines toxic ash legacy of Marsden B", Media Release, February 18, 2005.
  12. Greenpeace New Zealand, "500 Protest on 'Stop Marsden B-each Day Out'", Media Release, February 20, 2005.
  13. "Greenpeace activist in court over Marsden B as occupation enters seventh day", Media Release, February 22, 2005.
  14. "Toxic discharge pipe highlighted as Marsden B occupation hits 8th day", Media Release, February 23, 2005.
  15. Mighty River Power, "Mighty River Power Concerned About Safety", Media Release, February 16, 2005.
  16. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Whangarei locals and national environment groups urge Ministerial", Media Release, February 2, 2005.
  17. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Emotional welcome to ground expected for for Marsden B occupiers", Media Release, February 24, 2005.
  18. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Court throws out Mighty River Power standover tactics over Marsden B", Media Release, May 02, 2005.
  19. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Greenpeace evidence: Marsden B should be rejected", Media Release, July 26, 2005.
  20. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Renewable energy: a clean future - Greenpeace tells Marden B hearing", Media Release, August 02, 2005.
  21. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Council links to government on Marsden B revealed", Media Release, June 15, 2005.
  22. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Marsden B decision – a giant leap backwards", Media Release, September 26, 2005.
  23. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Greenpeace appeals Marsden B decision", Media Release, October 17, 2005.
  24. Mighty River Power, "Mighty River Power appeals some Resource Consent conditions at Marsden", Media Release, October 17, 2005.
  25. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Climate policy hole: big enough to drive , a coal-fired power station through", Media Release, July 17, 2006.
  26. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Marsden B decision taken to High Court", Media Release, August 05, 2006.
  27. "Mighty River Power tries to bully Greenpeace - again", Media Release, August 15, 2006.
  28. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Mighty River Power must face its own inconvenient truth as Greenpeace wins High Court case", Media Release, October 12, 2006.
  29. "Marsden B must go: Climate chaos imminent international scientific report shows", Media Release, January 30, 2007.
  30. Greenpeace, "Marsden not to proceed?", Media Release, February 11, 2007.
  31. Mighty River Power, "Mighty River Opts to Discontinue Marsden B Consent Plans". Media Release, March 7, 2007.
  32. Greenpeace New Zealand, "Climate the winner as Marsden B scrapped", Media Release, March 07, 2007.

Related articles

External links

Media Releases by Mighty River Power

Media Releases By Greenpeace

General Articles

Wikipedia also has an article on Marsden B power station. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.