A Far North marae committee has signed a co-operation and development agreement with lines company and electricity generator Top Energy, which has applied for consent to expand its geothermal power generation plant at Ngawha.
While terms of the agreement with the Ngawha Marae komiti (committee) were confidential at this point, it is understood that it recognises that the hapu of Ngati Rangi has kaitiaki (guardianship) responsibilities in the Ngawha area and contains provision for a committee representative to attend meetings of the Peer Review Panel, which advises the Northland Regional Council on compliance with resource consent conditions.
A Top Energy statement said the parties hoped the co-operation and development agreement would open the door for cultural and commercial development, at and around the geothermal field east of Kaikohe.
Top Energy had applied to Northland Regional and Far North District councils for consent to expand its geothermal power generation plant at Ngawha, which could see the power station's output triple to make the Far North self-sufficient in electricity and avoid national price hikes.
The commissioners conducting the hearing are expected to take a month to reach a decision.
If the consents are granted, they can be appealed to the Environment Court.
Top Energy has said the project would create up to 200 jobs through developing an industrial park, which would follow the availability of cheap, locally produced power and steam for heating.
The development involved the construction of two new geothermal power plants at Ngawha, with each plant generating 25 megawatts, as much as the two existing plants combined.