The Department of Conservation has discovered a further 2864 submissions on the Waitaha River hydro scheme caught in its email spam filters.

It also now has a petition with over 2000 names against the Westpower proposal, which has approval in principle from DoC.

The department then called for public submissions.

It said last week it had received about 1680 submissions and about 70 submitters wished to speak at a hearing to be held in Hokitika next month.

However, it has since found a Forest and Bird email containing a number of submissions in an Excel spreadsheet representing 2864 submissions that had been filtered by its spam system and not initially counted.

A spokeswoman said some of those submissions had been sent already by individual members of the public, so staff would be cross-referencing them to check there was no duplication.

The Green Party submission has 2343 signatures on it, "effectively these are counted as individual submissions, but noting that it is only one submission template".

"We are still processing the submissions so the number of people who wish to be heard is not yet available," the spokeswoman said.

Green Party West Coast branch co-convenor Clare Backes said yesterday the party ran an online petition, which got 2343 signatures in one week.

Westpower proposes developing a run-of-the-river power scheme on the river, with no need for a dam. A weir and diversion structure will be constructed at the upstream end of Morgan Gorge, at the head of the Waitaha Valley. A 2km access road, powerhouse and tunnel will also be built.

Farmers were encouraged by both Federated Farmers and Westland Milk Products to make submissions in support of the proposal, while kayakers and Forest and Bird launched campaigns against it.

- Greymouth Star